The Greek Government has opted for the adoption of a great number of emergency measures to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on businesses. A prerequisite for the inclusion of companies in the protection framework below is the maintenance of the same number of employees as on 19.03.2020. An indicative number of those measures are:
State aid: On 18.03.2020 the Greek Government announced the granting of a 3-month (i.e. April, May and June 2020) interest rate subsidy to businesses of the sectors of the economy that are directly affected by Covid-19. The subsidy will be granted under the National Strategic Reference Framework 2014-2020 (in Greek ESPA 2014–2020) financed by the Hellenic Republic and the European Union. Another government support measure is the financing in the form of refundable advance payments of a total amount of EUR 1 billion with low interest rate and 5-year maturity. In particular, from 03.04.2020 to 21.04.2020, either businesses (with 1 up to 500 employees) or businesses without employees which operate under specific business forms (i.e. partnerships, private companies (IKE) and limited liability companies) may apply to receive this form of financing from the Greek government. Only businesses with registered seat or permanent establishment in Greece, which have been affected from the incidence and spread of Covid-19, shall proceed with the aforementioned application. On 17.03.2020 the Hellenic Bank Association decided the suspension (until at least 30.9.2020) of the repayment of loan principal for business loans, provided that such loans were performing on 31.12.2019 (the suspension will be provided upon the borrower’s request). On 31.03.2020, the Greek Government announced, by means of a leg act, the suspension of the time-limits for the submission, expiry and payment of cheques and other negotiable instruments issued by businesses which have suspended their operations or have been severely affected due to the spread of Covid-19, by setting a suspension of 75 days from the relevant date referred to on the body of the said negotiable instrument (thus clearly resolving also the issue of the ‘post-dated cheques’).
The government support measures below apply to businesses that are under two categories: 1st category businesses that were obliged to suspend their operations and 2nd category the businesses that are severely affected by the economic impact of the corona crisis and lockdown. Employers belonging to the specific impacted categories announced by the Ministry of Finance could suspend the employment contracts of all or part of their employees for an uninterrupted period of 45 days (some of this businesses could extend this suspension). These employees are entitled to special state aid benefit through a payment of €800 (corresponding to 70% of the minimum national monthly wage).
Tax measures: The 2 categories of businesses mentioned above are entitled to an extension of payment of VAT as well as the payment of assessed debts and installments based on arrangements/settlement schemes due between 11.03.2020 to 30.04.2020 until 31.08.2020 and between 01.05.2020 and 31.05.2020 until 30.09.2020. A discount or a set-off will be provided where the applicable suspension period is not utilised by the affected enterprises and relevant taxes are timely paid. The VAT rate is reduced to 6% from 24% for masks and gloves for medical and private use, antiseptic solutions, antiseptic wipes and other antiseptic preparations.
Social security: Other State measures include the suspension of payment of February, March and April insurance contributions (employee and employer), until 30.09.2020, 31.10.2020 and 30.11.2020, respectively. A 3-month extension is also provided for the payment of instalments of active settlement schemes due by 31.03.2020 and for subsequent monthly instalments. A discount is provided in case that suspension period is not utilised and February and March social security contributions are timely paid.
Real Estate: The 2 categories of businesses mentioned above are entitled to pay 60% of the rent of the months of March and April for their premises and residence respectively, while landlords are not entitled to terminate the lease due to partial payment. For the owners who rent real estate to these companies, the deadlines for the payment of the debts certified to the Tax Authorities are extended. Employees of the renting party are also entitled to a 40% discount on their main residence.
Tourism: In case of termination of contracts either between tourism businesses and customers or between two tourism businesses effected from 25 February 2020 until 30 September 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, tourism enterprises are entitled – instead of returning the premature payments to the clients in case such an obligation is provided in the relevant contract – to exceptionally issue credit notes of equal value (the so-called “vouchers”). The vouchers are valid for an 18-month period.