Ministry to start assessing damage to economy

Ljubljana, 16 August - The Economy Ministry will start assessing damage done to the economy by the disastrous floods on Wednesday, said Economy Minister Matjaž Han. Planned measures include a moratorium on debts and easier employment for foreigners. Aid for self-employed will be made more accessible.

Massive clean-up efforts are underway after devastating floods hit Slovenia.
Photo: Anže Malovrh/STA

Han, Labour Minister Luka Mesec and representatives of the Finance Ministry met on Wednesday with representatives of commerce, industry, tourism and small business chambers to discuss measures to help businesses recover after the disastrous floods.

"The Economy Ministry will start assessing the damage in economy by assessing the damage to machinery, equipment, inventories and especially loss of income," said Han, who is expecting the assessment will be completed by 1 September. Businesses can use a special form to evaluate damage by that date. The ministry will then draft a recovery programme to be passed by the government so that payouts can begin.

Under the current legislation the ministry would pay up to 10% of damages to equipment, turnover and inventories in advance but the chambers have proposed an increase. This has to be discussed by the government, so Han did not wish to speculate how much the increase could be.

The advance payments will then be taken into consideration for later payouts of allocated resources from the flood relief programme. If insured against damage, the companies will be eligible for up to 60% of damages, otherwise up to 50%.

The Defence Ministry will be assessing damage to infrastructure which businesses will also have to report.

Self employed reporting a loss of income of 20% compared to last year will be eligible for aid, which is a change from the usual 50% loss of income as it is calculated at an annual level and there are only four months left in the year.

The Economy Ministry will recommend to the government the moratorium on business loans, which was first suggested by the Bank of Slovenia.

The ministry is also considering a possibility of insuring advanced payments if companies will be unable to get bank guarantee.

Han also hopes that liquidity loans from SID Bank and the Slovenian Enterprise Fund will be available in September.

They will try to make them affordable but that is up to the regulators. "I hope they will be willing to help the economy and individuals," said Han, who would extend the moratorium to individuals as well.

In line with the available resources the ministry will consider purchases of equipment and other investments that would allow the recovery and development of business and tourism.

The process of employing foreigners will be sped up for professions like roofers, fitters and engineers. "The Employment Service will issue a permit in 10 days and then administrative units will have three months to issue all necessary documentation," said Han. Changes for pensioners and students are coming as well but will be presented at the ministry at a later date.

Applications for state-funded furlough must be submitted by 28 August. The measure will have retroactive effect.

Han did not want to speculate when companies will first receive aid. They will try to make the pay outs as soon as possible after the damage assessment is completed.

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