Businesses want government to keep COVID rent programme

Czech business representatives want the government to preserve the COVID najemne (rent) programme, considering it one of the most effective ones, they said at an on-line press conference.

The programme has helped companies a lot and its costs are negligible in the context of the overall aid, business organisations' representatives said. There is no one programme that would sufficiently cover problems of businesses that are closed or limited, which means the aid needs to be come from several schemes, they said. This is not the time to make cuts. On the contrary, the state should add some help because of the ongoing restrictions, they added.

The Czech government has adopted two new compensation programmes, namely COVID 2021 and COVID Nepokryte naklady (uncovered costs), which will replace the previous schemes, including COVID najemne. The COVID najemne programme covered 50 percent of commercial rent in a given quarter and many shops will not survive without it, Confederation of Commerce and Tourism president Tomas Prouza said.

The state spent about Kc3bn on each of the three calls of the COVID najemne programme, while it has allocated roughly Kc223bn in direct aid to households and companies, according to the Finance Ministry data, said Jan Kubicek, chairman of the International Council of Shopping Centers' Czech committee. The economy needs shops and services to survive in the long term, as they are kind of a marketplace for products of large companies, Confederation of Industry vice-president Jan Rafaj said.

The cabinet has decided that future help will be built on four programmes - job retention programme Antivirus, compensation bonus for sole traders, COVID 2021 (Kc500 subsidy per employee a day) and COVID Nepokryte naklady (to cover 60 percent of entrepreneurs' costs). A condition regarding the two latter schemes is a drop in sales by at least 50 percent compared to 2020 or 2019.

The Industry and Trade Ministry has accepted roughly 94,000 applications worth Kc8.7bn in the three calls of the COVID najemne programme, according to the ministry's data. A total of 98 percent of applications for Kc2.6bn were approved in the first call and applications in the second one are being processed, according to the ministry data. The third call is open until April 8.

Source: ČTK

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