State focusing on supporting tourism sector, small businesses

Foreign Trade and Information Technology Minister Kaimar Karu said that the state is increasingly focusing on supporting the tourism sector and small businesses that have suffered the most from the coronavirus crisis.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Karu said: "The tourism sector and small businesses are very much affected in the current situation. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications along with Kredex and Enterprise Estonia are developing new measures, adjusting previous measures and collecting feedback from companies at the moment."

The minister, who is affiliated with, but not a member of, EKRE, added: "It is important that everything is as simple as possible and as free of red tape as possible. This is how we are trying to design the measures."

Karu said Enterprise Estonia is planning to expand the target groups of the support and, in addition to industry, the service sector will also be added in the future. Enterprise Estonia is also planning to reduce the level of self-financing for some measures and changing the tourism business model support.

"When it comes to Kredex's measures, we are making sure that there is a loan guarantee on more favorable terms than usual. This also means that interest rates would be lower than they have been in the past. The ceiling of the guarantee, which was 5 million euros, has now been removed. The guarantee ceiling has caused controversy," the minister said.

He said the new focus of Kredex is small businesses and a separate approach has been put together for the tourism sector. "In addition, if Kredex's loan guarantee measures are not sufficient or for some reason are not suitable, Enterprise Estonia will allocate direct subsidies to companies with a smaller revenue," the minister said.

"The total amount of direct payments in Enterprise Estonia is €25 million and one company can apply for a maximum of €800,000 in total, which arises from EU rules. The maximum amount of direct support for a specific company similarly depends on its field of activity. The compensation period is calculated for the tourism sector from the measures of Enterprise Estonia for four months, that is from March to June," Karu said.

"As for the tourism sector and catering establishments in particular, direct payments will also take into account past tax behavior. Companies that have paid envelope wages in the past are more likely to be excluded from the measures," the minister added.

Karu said that the total amount of direct support under business support is €10 million. Subsidies for islands and Ida-Viru County have been reserved separately.

This week, Estonia will also submit an application for a state aid permit to the European Commission.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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