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Government measures that can help your business during the Corona Crisis

 

To the members of the diamond community,

In the framework of the Corona crisis, both the Federal and Flemish government have taken a number of financial measures to help both companies and individuals through this crisis. These measures can also be used by you, the diamond companies and members of our community.

Because these measures are continuously being updated, we are giving you an overview of the different government websites where you can find more detailed information.

Diamond industry can restart its activities as of May 4

The government decided that all companies and industries can restart their activities as of May 4.
In order to restart safely, the Antwerp World Diamond Centre created a roadmap with guidelines on how to restart your business in a safe way. Download the generic poster, which you can print and use in your office, building or in communicating with visitors here.

You can download the COVID-19 FAQ (English), issued by the Belgian Government here.

For more information on shipping and travel, download our Q&A here.

Please follow these guidelines strictly, as inspection by the police is possible. 

 

Support Measures

For the latest, updated overview and more detailed information, download the full pdf here.

Voor een nederlandse versie van deze informatie, klik hier.

The most important measures for your company and employees are the following;

UPDATE: MEZZANINE FINANCING BY PARTICIPATIE MAATSCHAPPIJ VLAANDEREN (PMV)

PMV, Participatie Maatschappij Vlaanderen, provides an extra financial buffer for Flemish companies, by offering subordinated loans (mezzanine financing) on a medium term of 3 years.
 
These subordinated loans are for companies which are not qualified for the short-term bridging loans that banks offer now with a federal government guarantee.
 
Beware that these loans can not be combined with the financial compensation that is provided by the Flemish government. 
 
What does this mezzanine financing of PMV entail?

  • Only for healthy companies that need financial reinforcement due to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • At the start of the COVID-19 crisis, companies were not allowed to have arrears of payment on current credits, taxes, VAT or Social Security contributions
  • A loan of minimum 25,000 euros – maximum 800,000 euros. 
  • The interest rate is 4,5% for SME’s and self-employed persons taking out this type of loan. It is an annual deferred interest that can be paid in full at the end of the period.
  • These subordinated loans can be applied for from now until 15 November 2020 at the latest.

The loan can be requested via http://www.pmv.eu/nl/achtergestelde-lening-op-drie-jaar-aanvragen

Financial Compensation

Any company that suffers financially, even if it wasn’t obliged to close due to the Corona Crisis, can apply for a financial compensation :

•    Compensation of 3000 euros
For every self-employed person
In case you can prove (sworn statement) a loss of turnover of at least 60% compared to the same period last year, more specifically 14/3/2019 – 30/4/2019

•    Contact VLAIO to apply for this financial compensation: www.vlaio.be

Fiscal Measures

Fiscal measures, mainly postponement of payment applies to:

  • Personal Income Tax / Carat Tax
  • Corporate Income Tax / Carat Tax
  • Withholding tax
  • VAT
  • Legal entities tax
  • Road tax
  • Inheritance tax
  • Registration tax

UPDATE Change in Prepayment percentages of income tax

The government has decided to grant an additional benefit to companies making advance payments in Q3 and Q4, with ultimate due date on 10 October 2020 and 20 December 2020. This measure makes it more interesting for companies to make an advance payment because of the discount granted on these advance payments.

The pdf you can download here  shows the adjusted percentages for prepayments.

The measure is intended for companies with liquidity problems.
The measure does not apply to companies that:

  • buy back own shares or implement a capital reduction
  • who pay or declare dividends between March 12 2020 and December 31 2020

For more information please contact your accountant or via https://financien.belgium.be/nl/Actueel/corona-steunmaatregel-wijziging-percentages-voorafbetalingen-van-de-inkomstenbelasting

 

More information:

 

Economic unemployment

In the framework of the Corona crisis, you can put your employees (laborers and employees) on temporary unemployment. This means you do not have to pay wages for the days your employees cannot work. Your employees will receive social benefits from the RVA. By using this system, you can avoid having to dismiss staff. Get in touch with your accountant or social secretariat to investigate these options.

Anyone who is put on temporary unemployment will receive a compensation from the Flemish government for one month's payment of water and energy bills. The amount of money is based on the average expense per month for water and energy (electricity/gas/fuel/other)

More information:

 

Banks

On Sunday March 22nd, the Federal Government, the National Bank and the banks reached an agreement to:

  • Grant postponement of payment to individuals for existing credit lines until Sept 30th 2020, for example home loans
  • This postponement should be applied for at your bank
  • If the postponement is approved, you are temporarily exempted from the payment of interest and capital
  • The above measure go into effect on Friday March 27

 

Banking plan’ of Minister of Finance Alexander De Croo

Government decided that it will be possible to receive, up until September 30 2020, new additional credit and credit lines, with a maximum duration of 12 months (refinancing credits are excluded), which will fall under the government guarantee system.

The interest on these new credits and credit lines can’t exceed 1,25% per annum nominally.

The government also announced that all financial institutions operating in Belgium, as well as branches of credit institutions under foreign law, are covered by this plan. This means it also applies to foreign banks active in Belgium. The government is currently negotiating the details with the banking sector about this measure, if you want more information about these possibilities, please contact your bank.

 

UPDATE: EXPANDED GUARANTEE

What is it ?

PARTICIPATIEMAATSCHAPPIJ VLAANDEREN (PMV), the Flemish Investment Fund will guarantee loans used to pay debts caused by the Corona crisis.

PMV guarantee enables companies, which are unable to obtain financing due to a lack of sufficient guarantees, can have 75% of their contracts covered by the Flemish government, in exchange for a once-only premium. The fee of this premium will be 0,25% instead of the normal 0,5%.  Thus, the government partially carries the bank’s risk.Thus, the government partially carries the bank’s risk.

Because of the Corona crisis, this government guarantee is expanded, allowing companies and sole proprietors to have sufficient guarantees for a bridging loan, including for existing, non-banking debts (up to 12 months).

In addition the government created the possibility to receive a 50% guarantee on short-term credit lines, on the condition they are maintained for a period of minimal three months.

The measures are an addition to the existing guarantees for investment credit and working capital – that procedure allows you to extend guaranteed credits or request deferment of payment.

For which debts can I apply?

This concerns existing, non-bank debt, such as overdue social security and VAT debt or outstanding rent or, for example, overdue wages more than 3 months old (counts as recovery of working capital). Those who have paid an invoice with their own funds six months ago (the arrangement is valid for 12 months) or for example want to pay off their own current account can apply the corona crisis guarantee.

In addition, under the 100 million Euro Corona crisis guarantee, bank debt (in addition to supplier debts) of existing credit lines and investment credits that are not yet guaranteed under the deposit can be guaranteed, insofar as the bank is also willing to allow a minimum of 3 months payment delay. Thus the crisis guarantee serves as a catalyst towards businesses.

How can you apply for this extended procedure?

If you wish to make use of a financing request based on the corona guarantee, you need to get in touch with your bank or leasing company. They will assess if the guarantee is applicable to your financing. You will have to demonstrate your financing request is a consequence of the Corona crisis.

When can you apply?

You can get in touch with your bank or leasing company starting today.

This procedure will run through to the end of this year (2020).

More info (Dutch): https://www.pmvz.eu/corona-uitbreiding

Deferment of Corporate Loans

What does the banking plan for companies mean in practice?

Businesses that are financially affected by the corona crisis and who meet the conditions for granting may request payment deferment of corporate credit.

What does this mean for my company?

A payment extension of the business credit means that your company must not make any repayments of capital for a maximum of 6 months.  Interest remains due.

The banks undertake not to charge the usual file or administration costs.

What about the timing?

For applications made up to and including April 30, 2020, a maximum of 6 months of deferral can be obtained, up to and including October 31, 2020.

For applications made after April 30, 2020, the end date remains October 31, 2020.

 This means, for example, that anyone who makes a credit application can withdraw another 4 months of payment delay in June (July-August-September-October).

Applications made prior to the publication of the charters will be evaluated according to the charters' criteria.  If necessary, the bank will contact the borrower.

How do I apply for it?

Anyone who thinks that they meet the conditions to be able to apply for a postponement of payments is asked to contact his or her bank.  This is only possible by appointment or via the available digital channels of the bank (e-mail, chat, mobile app, ...) and by telephone. If you think you meet the conditions to apply for a postponement of payment, you have to contact your bank. Banks cannot refuse the deferment if you fit all criteria. On the Febelfin website you can find an extensive Q&A (Dutch)

The banks make every effort to help their customers as best and as quickly as possible

Full details of the payment deferral can be found in the corporate credit deferral charter.

More information about the Corporate Credit Deferment Charter here

More information:

 

Travel / transport

As a rule, people should work from home, all non-essential movements are to be avoided unless there is no other option. You can go to work, but you need to respect a minimum of 1.5 meters distance from other people, what is referred to as 'social distancing', including in elevators, within your own office space or when you are in another office or building.

Traveling abroad
Non-essential travel is prohibited by the government until April 5. It has not been defined what (non-)essential travel is and what isn't, so each person decides individually what non-essential means. Holidays, for example, are not essential.

Those who have to travel for work are recommended to check the website of the Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs to see which measures are in effect to stem the spread of the virus: https://diplomatie.belgium.be/nl/Diensten/Op_reis_in_het_buitenland/reisadviezen

Traveling to France
If you want to travel to France, we recommend that you download and complete this form: https://www.gouvernement.fr/sites/default/files/contenu/piece-jointe/2020/03/attestation_de_deplacement_derogatoire.pdf

More information about traveling to France: https://diplomatie.belgium.be/nl/Diensten/Op_reis_in_het_buitenland/reisadviezen/frankrijk

For the latest, updated overview and more detailed information, download the full pdf here.

 

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