The coronavirus pandemic has had serious financial implications for businesses across all sectors. If your business is affected, the first thing you should do is to find out whether you are entitled to any government support.

Governments around the world have introduced emergency measures to try to keep businesses functioning even if they are not able to open or have to make changes to the ways they serve customers.

These measures typically come in the form of grants or loans and may be either used to preserve cash flow in general or for specific designated purposes, such as paying employees who are unable to work. Grants do not need to be paid back, whereas government loans are likely to be interest-free or low-interest, and if interest is payable, it may be deferred.

Other measures may include the option to delay paying taxes, or reductions in taxes. Aside from direct government support, some governments have introduced schemes to allow businesses to delay repaying bank loans or debts. Support may also be available if your business is finding it difficult to pay rent on its premises. Check with your government to see what support is available as a matter of priority, as measures may be time-limited. If in doubt, seek professional advice. A good financial adviser will be able to identify the support you could receive.

Seek Covid-19-related government assistance

Assess whether you can take advantage of the additional liquidity provided through initiatives around the relaxation of statutory and regulatory requirements and specific government support such as employment relief, furlough or credit guarantee schemes.

Work with government agencies and regulators on additional support measures to help you implement other relevant contingency options, including restructuring, where necessary.

Country-specific government support

The support available differs by country. These examples of schemes run by particular countries should give you an idea of what might be available.

Croatia: Employment relief

During the Covid-19 crisis the Government of Croatia introduced programmes designed to retain jobs and ensure liquidity, as well as Covid-19 loans, that were extended until the end of the year. For all sectors, the government will co-finance a shorter working week with a maximum of HRK 2,000 per worker plus contributions, as well as provide assistance to micro businesses until the end of December, also amounting to HRK 2,000 (approximately €266) per worker, if the employer has suffered a drop in turnover of more than 50%. For activities that are particularly at risk (passenger transport, hospitality, travel agencies and recreation-related businesses, as well as cultural, business and sports events), support of HRK 4,000 (approximately €533) is provided per employee until the end of December, if their drop in turnover exceeds 60%.

Croatia: Measures for improving liquidity and concerning financial reporting

The Government of Croatia announced measures including: 

VAT payments will not be due until payment is received from customers

the deadline for the 2019 financial reports will be extended to 30 June.

Greece: Additional tax relief measures (Covid-19)

Additional tax relief measures were enacted at the end of March 2020 to address the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

A legislative act of provisions to support businesses economically affected by the Covid-19 crisis provided, in part:

a financing programme that allows for a full or partial refund of advance payments of tax

a 25% reduction of assessed liabilities on tax payment instalments that are due between 30 March 2020 and 30 April 2020, excluding value added tax (VAT) and withholding taxes

an automatic suspension of certain tax and social security liabilities

a suspension of tax audits and related deadlines; the statute of limitations that would apply during the period from 30 March through 31 May 2020 is extended to 31 July 2020

an exemption from VAT for donations of goods made to the Greek government in support of the efforts against Covid-19.

Slovenia: Moratorium on debt repayments

Deferral of 12 months for liabilities arising from bank loans if the liabilities were not due up to the time when the epidemic was declared.

Temporary deferral of enforcement orders and enforcement procedures, and temporary suspension of enforcement orders in tax enforcement procedures.