Bridging aid: Federal government puts together a new rescue package

Peter Altmaier

The Federal Minister of Economics wants to simplify the payment of bridging aid III.

(Photo: AFP)

Berlin The family company Behn has been running a beverage wholesaler in Schleswig-Holstein since 1892 and produces popular spirits such as “Kleiner Feigling” or “Küstennebel”.

There is a great demand for alcoholic beverages during the corona crisis. But Rüdiger Behn, who runs the company with his brother, is still worried, also because a large part of the turnover is accounted for by the catering trade. And with the Corona aid, the company fell through the rust completely.

As an indirectly affected company, it could only benefit if sales had slumped by at least 80 percent. Rüdiger Behn is correspondingly bad at talking about politics: “Minister of Economic Affairs Altmaier broke his promise not to leave any company out in the rain,” says the entrepreneur. That undermines the credibility of the policy.

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Corona aid: Federal government wants to expand support – politics

The grand coalition wants to mitigate the economic consequences of the planned extension of the lockdown with further aid. According to information from Süddeutsche Zeitung Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) and his colleague Peter Altmaier (CDU) are planning to improve the bridging aid III that is already in place and to expand the group of beneficiaries. This should relieve the retail trade in particular, but also self-employed people from all sectors from culture to cosmetics and large companies.

Scholz has suggested that retailers can write off seasonal goods that cannot be sold completely as fixed costs; Generally speaking, up to 50 percent of goods should be credited as fixed costs. This relieves the burden on the large fashion chains in particular, but also on smaller boutiques, which can no longer sell their winter goods, i.e. anoraks, quilted jackets, boots, ski equipment, because of the long lockdown.

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It is also planned that the deductions for November and December aid will be doubled from 50,000 to 100,000 euros. The coalition wants to relieve the burden on large hotel chains, service station operators and restaurant chains in particular, which have not yet received any support due to bureaucratic hurdles and constantly changing application conditions. Because large companies fall under EU state aid law, the competition watchdogs in Brussels had examined the rapid aid promised by Scholz and Altmaier, which had to be adapted to EU law. This means that the companies are not reimbursed for the comparable previous year’s sales – as originally planned – but rather losses in fixed costs. The changes had meant that some of the big players in the closed sectors had not yet received a cent of support.

The access of the companies affected by the restrictions to bridging aid III – these are subsidies for fixed costs – is to be further facilitated and the circle of those entitled to be expanded; Until now, companies with a turnover decrease of at least 40 percent were eligible to apply; in the future, support should be available from a turnover drop of 30 percent. The maximum subsidies are to be increased to 1.5 million euros per month, subject to the approval of the EU competition watchdog.

The restart assistance for the solo self-employed is also improved. Scholz and Altmaier plan that in the future half of the losses can be claimed, previously it was 25 percent. The total funding amount will be increased from January to June from a total of 5,000 to 7,500 euros. “Non-employed employees”, i.e. seasonal workers, should also be eligible to apply.

In order to prevent a wave of bankruptcies, the obligation to file for bankruptcy is to be suspended for a further month or two. Mini-jobbers should have access to short-time work until March 31, and the simplified access for self-employed to basic security will be extended.

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Scholz employees trained by EY

Federal Minister of Finance Olaf Scholz

Individual coaching for his closest employees.

(Foto: imago images/photothek)

Berlin When the Wirecard scandal broke out at the end of June 2020, it quickly became clear to Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) who was responsible for the disaster besides the Wirecard managers: the auditors from EY, who had not objected to the Dax Group’s balance sheets for years.

“Critical questions are also posed to the supervision of the company, especially with regard to accounting and balance sheet control,” said Scholz. “Auditors and regulators seem to have been ineffective here.”

At the same time, while Scholz EY was pushing ahead, his closest employees were being trained in individual coaching by EY. This emerges from an internal document of the Federal Ministry of Finance (BMF), which is available to the Handelsblatt.

“Until the summer, EY worked as a lecturer as part of the BMF training program (Module 1 – Legal Basics) on supervisory board work, including recently in individual coaching on July 2, 2020 for St S and St K,” says the document.

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“St S and St K” are the abbreviations for Wolfgang Schmidt and Jörg Kukies, who, as state secretaries in the Federal Ministry of Finance, also hold supervisory board mandates. Schmidt at the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), Kukies at the state development bank KfW.

“EY had won the tender for the contract and performed properly,” says the document. From the point of view of financial politicians, it is fundamentally sensible for state secretaries to receive further training in order to be able to carry out their secondary work as members of the supervisory board of important organizations or companies.

But the fact that EY of all people carried out the coaching is somewhat ironic against the background of the Wirecard scandal and the criticism of EY. FDP finance politician Florian Toncar says: “It’s getting more and more absurd.”

Incidentally, Scholz now wants to legally restrict these consultancy services from auditors without blushing. FDP finance politician Florian Toncar

While Olaf Scholz tried to publicly unload all the blame for the Wirecard disaster at EY, his closest confidants completed one-on-one coaching with this company.

“Incidentally, Scholz now wants to legally restrict these consultancy services from auditors without blushing,” said Toncar.

EY loses audit mandates

EY has so far rejected misconduct in the Wirecard scandal. Nevertheless, in addition to Scholz, many other politicians also see EY as responsible for the scandal. Therefore, the question also arises as to how the Federal Government deals with the large number of consultancy contracts it has concluded with EY. And also whether EY should continue to check the balance sheets of companies with federal participation.

The federal government has already drawn the first steps. The Handelsblatt reported last week that EY lost its audit mandate at Deutsche Telekom due to pressure from representatives of the federal government on the supervisory board. It was the fourth major test order that EY had to submit since the Wirecard scandal.

More: EY loses auditing mandate at Deutsche Telekom

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Advice on the Corona situation: Home office obligation and curfews?

Dhe Corona containment measures could be expanded with curfews or an FFP2 mask requirement in rail traffic. “There is a selection of possibilities on the table, from the home office requirement to the FFP2 mask requirement in rail traffic to clearer contact restrictions or curfews,” said Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier of the “Rheinische Post”. Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) said that he expected the federal and state governments to tighten the corona restrictions and extend them by two weeks.

Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn also sees the drop in the number of new infections not yet sufficient. There is also a slight relaxation in the intensive care units with ten to 15 percent fewer corona intensive care patients, says the CDU politician in the ZDF morning magazine. “But we are still a long way from where we want to be,” he added and also referred to the risk of virus mutations that spread, which are considered more infectious. “So it makes sense to bring the numbers down as far as possible,” he says.

In Bavaria, people have had to wear FFP2 protective masks on buses, trams, underground and suburban trains and in all shops since the early hours of the morning. There is also a night curfew in the Free State. Before the consultations on Tuesday, Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder sees his own state in the fight against the pandemic already well positioned. “We don’t need to pull a screw anymore, I think,” said the CSU boss on Sunday evening on the ARD talk show “Anne Will”.

Instead, Söder called on the other countries to implement the decisions made at the Prime Minister’s Conference more consistently. “Half of the countries do something completely different,” he said. “So that you have to keep asking the question: Why do we decide something when half do it differently.” Söder called for consistent application and implementation of what was decided in Berlin. “I also don’t believe in endless differentiations – because only what applies to everyone is understandable.” Söder sees the regulations in Bavaria as a kind of blueprint for federal regulations.

Night curfews like in France?

According to information from “Business Insiders”, the Chancellery even wants to introduce a nationwide uniform night curfew, as it already exists in France and other neighboring countries. Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in the “Bild” talk: “Further measures must be taken.” (…). “I assume that it can be 14 days that will come again.” The Vice Chancellor did not want to rule out whether this also includes curfews. “I think that is a possible measure, but not the one that comes first.”

Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn said in the meantime on ZDF that there is a slight relaxation in the intensive care units with ten to 15 percent fewer corona intensive care patients. “But we are still a long way from where we want to be,” said the CDU politician, referring to the risk of virus mutations that are spreading and are considered more infectious. “So it makes sense to bring the numbers down as far as possible.”

SPD health politician Karl Lauterbach even spoke out in favor of a tough three-week lockdown. The growth of the mutation must absolutely be prevented, he wrote on Twitter early Monday morning. Otherwise the mutation will spread “faster than we can vaccinate”. In his view, curfews from 8 p.m. onwards are justifiable for three weeks. For local public transport, he advocates maximum occupation limits and FFP2 mask requirements.

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The federal and state governments are planning night curfews

At the federal-state summit on Tuesday, further cuts are pending in the everyday life of citizens. According to media reports, it is already clear that there will be a curfew.

At the federal-state talks on Tuesday, curfews and an FFP2 mask requirement in rail traffic will probably also be wrestled. “There is a selection of possibilities on the table”, said Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier of the “Rheinische Post”. In addition to the FFP2 mask requirement in rail traffic and the curfews, he also mentioned a home office requirement and clearer contact restrictions. Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) said that he expected the federal and state governments to tighten the corona restrictions and extend them by two weeks.

The “Tagesschau” and the business magazine “Business Insider” had previously reported that the federal and state governments would probably want to introduce a night curfew nationwide. The only open question is from when to when such a curfew will apply and whether it should only come into force from a certain incidence, it said in the reports on Sunday, citing information from government circles. In principle, the federal states agreed to the measure.

Some of the rules already apply in Bavaria

In Bavaria, people have had to wear FFP2 protective masks on buses, trams, underground and suburban trains and in all shops since the early hours of the morning. There is also a night curfew in the Free State. Before the consultations on Tuesday, Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder sees his own state in the fight against the pandemic already well positioned. “We don’t need to pull a screw anymore, I think,” said the CSU boss on Sunday evening on the ARD talk show “Anne Will”.

Instead, Söder called on the other countries to implement the decisions made at the Prime Minister’s Conference more consistently. “Half of the countries do something completely different,” he said. “So that you have to keep asking the question: Why do we decide something when half do it differently.” Söder called for a consistent application and implementation of what was decided in Berlin. “I also don’t believe in endless differentiations – because only what applies to everyone is understandable.”

Söder sees the regulations in Bavaria as a kind of blueprint for federal regulations. According to information from the “Business Insider”, the Chancellery even wants to introduce a nationwide uniform night curfew, as it already exists in France or other neighboring countries. From the federal states, however, one can also hear that everything is currently being discussed that can be discussed.

Scholz expects a longer lockdown

Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in the “Bild” talk “The right questions”: “Further measures must be taken.” (…). “I assume that it could be 14 days that will be added again.” The Vice Chancellor did not want to rule out whether this also includes curfews: “I think this is a possible measure, but not the first one to come.”

SPD health politician Karl Lauterbach even spoke out in favor of a tough three-week lockdown. The growth of the mutation must absolutely be prevented, he wrote on Twitter early Monday morning. Otherwise the mutation will spread “faster than we can vaccinate”. In his view, curfews from 8 p.m. are justifiable for three weeks. For local public transport, he advocates maximum occupation limits and FFP2 mask requirements.

“What we cannot even assess is the British virus”

So there is still a lot of need for coordination in front of the federal-state switch. On Monday, the leaders of the federal and state governments will be informed about new findings by leading scientists. “There are those who they all know”, said Hesse’s Prime Minister Volker Bouffier (CDU) at “Anne Will” and named the RKI President Lothar Wieler and the Charité virologist Christian Drosten.

On the question of why the federal-state meeting on Tuesday was scheduled so quickly and why the situation is so urgent, Bouffier said: “What we cannot assess is the British virus. That is the reason why we are meeting now.” This time scientists from Great Britain will also be there. “It will be about: What knowledge do you have?” In Great Britain, a more contagious mutation of the coronavirus has spread widely, which has now also been detected in Germany. A comparable variant has also appeared in South Africa.

There is a risk that the dynamics will accelerate again if the virus mutations continue to spread, said Altmaier. “That is why we must now – and this is explicitly my opinion as Minister of Economics – at the Prime Minister’s Conference set the course so that we can finally break the wave of infections in the next few weeks and prevent the dynamic from rising again until Easter.”

The SPD leader also speaks of the obligation to work from home

SPD leader Saskia Esken spoke to “Anne Will” like Altmaier of the home office obligation: You may have to order home office in the company, she said. Scholz also called for companies to be more accountable when it came to home office matters, and that it could “not stay with appeals,” he said in the “Bild” talk. “We have to go one step further.” But he did not want to talk about an obligation to work from home: It will always depend on “that this is also operationally possible. We want to remain pragmatic and not ask for the impossible”.

Green parliamentary group leader Katrin Göring-Eckardt calls for an initiative to expand corona rapid tests in the fight against the virus. “With purchase guarantees and a change in the medical product dispensing regulation, Health Minister (Jens) Spahn must ensure that sufficient rapid tests are produced and can also be bought and used by private individuals,” said Goering-Eckardt to the newspapers of the Funke media group.

According to Göring-Eckardt, regular rapid tests should ensure more safety in all professions in which people regularly work with changing contacts. She cited doctors, nurses and police officers as examples.

The virologist Marylyn Addo expects the corona pandemic to ease significantly from spring and summer. “Already because of the warmer weather and the higher vaccination rate,” said the head of the Infectious Diseases Section of the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) of the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” (Monday).

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Reactions to the election of Armin Laschet as CDU chief

Saskia Esken

The SPD chairwoman still sees the future course of the CDU not yet clear.

(Photo: dpa)

Berlin After his election as the new CDU leader, Armin Laschet thanked his party for the great confidence they had shown. “I am aware of the responsibility associated with this office,” said the North Rhine-Westphalian Prime Minister on Saturday at the CDU’s digital party conference. Now it is a matter of the CDU passing the upcoming state elections in “a few weeks”. In addition, he wanted to ensure that “the Union has the next Chancellor” in the federal election.

The outgoing CDU chairwoman Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer thanked all candidates “for the fair competition”. On Twitter she warns: “And now all together for our Union and our country.”

Competitors Merz and Röttgen congratulated Laschet on his election success and wished him every success in the election year. It was an “enormously exhausting time for all of us to survive,” said Merz. How he wanted to get involved after his defeat in the CDU, Merz said nothing. He did not run as a candidate for a post in the CDU presidium.

Röttgen, on the other hand, decided to run and was elected to the presidium. He emphasized that he stood by his word and will now support Laschet with all his might. “You can count on me. We have to form a team now, ”he said.

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Federal Finance Minister and Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz and CSU boss Markus Söder also congratulated Laschet on the victory. SPD politician Scholz wishes Laschet a lucky hand for the “big task”. “This year is tough and will be a challenge for all of us. We say goodbye to it – all the best! ”Tweeted Scholz. Bavaria’s Prime Minister Söder said he was looking forward to working with Laschet. “Together we will continue the success story of the Union,” he wrote on Twitter.

The SPD leader Saskia Esken still sees the future course of the CDU not yet clarified. “How the identity crisis in which the CDU is recognizable is resolving is not yet clear even after this party congress,” Esken told the “Saarbrücker Zeitung”, referring to the open question of the Union’s candidacy for chancellor. “We urgently need a stable partner in the coalition over the next few months and not a partner who is busy with himself,” added Esken.

Left faction leader Dietmar Barsch indirectly congratulated Laschet on winning the runoff election and at the same time gave the CDU a swipe. He congratulated Armin Laschet on his new post, but pointed out the “dilution of the party”: “It is good that a dilution according to the law has not prevailed in the Union. The Union has been leading the federal government for 15 years and is thus largely responsible for the deep division in our society “, writes perch on the short message service Twitter.

The FDP chairman Christian Lindner congratulated the new CDU chairman on the election victory on Saturday. “To such good cooperation and such sporty competition as federal chairman as we both had earlier as NRW state chairman,” writes Lindner, who also comes from North Rhine-Westphalia, on Twitter.

Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier also congratulates Armin Laschet on being elected CDU chairman and pays his respects to the defeated candidates Friedrich Merz and Norbert Röttgen. According to him, it was a fair election campaign. This has sent a clear signal for the Union’s will to shape and govern, Altmaier wrote on Twitter.

The leader of the Left Party, Katja Kipping, emphasized the tight result for Laschet: “521 – that’s only 20 votes on thirst,” writes Kipping on Twitter. “That means that Laschet too will have to give the right wing CDU so much sugar in the coming months that the Greens will have to think three times about whether they really want to give themselves to the Union for better or for worse.”

She also emphasizes in another post on Twitter, that the CDU has a new party chairman in Laschet, but is still far from being a candidate for chancellor. “No matter who wins the race for the CDU candidate for chancellor, the CDU will not be ready to set the course so that we can come out of the crisis fairly.”

The CDU Prime Minister of Schleswig-Holstein, Daniel Günther, calls on Armin Laschet to involve all parts of the party and to give hope to the members. Laschet gave an impressive speech and exudes a lot of important optimism, says Günther in the Phoenix interview.

Congratulations from Chancellor Sebastian Kurz from Austria. He wishes the new CDU leader Armin Laschet “all the best for the tasks ahead”. Kurz tweeted: “It is important for us that Germany continues to develop well. The @CDU as the decisive political force in the middle is the best guarantee for this. “

In the opinion of the Mining, Chemical and Energy Industrial Union, with the election of Armin Laschet, the CDU is positioning itself in the middle and in the tradition of Christian social teaching. “It is important for the unions that the currently strongest party positions itself in the crisis like this,” tweeted IG-BCE boss Michael Vassiliadis.

According to the words of the Green bosses Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck, Laschet also faces major tasks. He now has to redefine the CDU after the era of Chancellor Angela Merkel and clarify what the party actually stands for in terms of content. “Germany has big tasks to cope with, especially now the corona pandemic.” In addition, the course must be set for consistent climate protection and the ecological modernization of the economy.

Business reactions

The BDI President Siegfried Russwurm is already making initial demands on the new CDU chief to “immediately commit to necessary investments and setting the course”. The current crisis management and the beginning of the election campaign should not obstruct the view of dynamism and future viability, otherwise a lost year for trend-setting decisions threatens. The grand coalition leaves “a wide infrastructure and investment gap”.

The President of the Federal Association of German Startups, Christian Miele, also has clear expectations of Armin Laschet. He must put the political focus on the topic of digitization.

Daniel Hager, family entrepreneur and head of the Hager Group, thinks Laschet is a good listener who takes the time to form an opinion. He had the ability to bring different camps together. “I was impressed that at the beginning of the first corona wave he was one of the few government representatives who credibly looked for proportionality and alternatives to a lockdown. For our economy it is necessary right now to have such an open listener that people trust. ”

The prominent technology investor Frank Thelen demands: “As difficult as it is in the current situation, we now have to boldly invest in our future. We need a new 2030 Agenda with a focus on technologies such as AI, hyperloops, biotech, 3D printing ”. Thelen also says: “Germany has to wake up now!”

One of his greatest challenges for Laschet, however, is to take his own party with him on this path: “Many people still miss their fax machine,” says Thelen. “How will he get you excited about the opportunities offered by new technologies?”

The founder of the globally active Berlin travel activities start-up Getyourguide, Johannes Reck, says: “The CDU consistently explains to us why things are not moving forward, but we now have to set ambitious goals and finally implement them.”

The CDU economic politician Carsten Linnemann shows disappointment with Laschet’s election victory. He asked Friedrich Merz to be elected to the CDU presidium. He was disappointed that Merz was not elected head of the CDU, says the chairman of the MIT SME association on the Phoenix broadcaster. It is important to merge the camps in the CDU now. “That doesn’t happen overnight,” emphasizes Linnemann. To Merz he says: “I would like him to appear in the presidium. I think it’s damn important that he stays on board. ”Merz was a candidate for“ the base ”.

The former EU member of the CDU, Elmar Brok, is also demanding a top position for Friedrich Merz after the next federal election. On “BILD Live” Brok said that Merz should become a member of the next federal government. “I couldn’t think of anyone better than Merz as Federal Finance Minister,” said Brok.

At the purely digital CDU party conference, Laschet had clearly prevailed against ex-Union faction leader Friedrich Merz in a runoff election. Foreign politician Norbert Röttgen was eliminated in the first round of elections.

“Let Friedrich Merz take part in a prominent position”

Arndt G. Kirchhoff, Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Kirchhoff Group and President of the State Association of Business Associations in North Rhine-Westphalia, is satisfied with Armin Laschet.
“Armin Laschet can do that. He is reliable and prudent. He has improved the general economic sentiment in North Rhine-Westphalia, why shouldn’t he succeed in this nationwide? ”He says. “The economic profile of the party should be sharpened – in the spirit of Friedrich Merz. I would very much appreciate it if Armin Laschet let Friedrich Merz take part in a prominent position. “

When asked what Kirchhoff’s demands on Laschet and what is important now, he said: “We absolutely have to increase Germany’s international competitiveness, especially when it comes to taxes, energy costs and social costs. Employees and employers bear the costs of the pandemic. “

On the subject of the candidate for chancellor, Kirchhoff says: “That is a completely different question. Given the weight of the CDU, the CDU should provide someone. “

More: Read here how Armin Laschet won the race.

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Corona aid: The trade association attacks Olaf Scholz

economy Corona help

“Outrageous” – the trade attacks Olaf Scholz

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Corona aid is being paid out slowly

Many companies complain that the announced corona aid is being paid out slowly. Main sticking points: a lot of bureaucracy, ambiguous application forms and a lack of software. But that should now be different.

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Vice Chancellor Scholz sees the low level of utilization of the Corona aid as a good sign. The trade association finds this statement “outrageous”. Because the real reason is different – and the finance minister is responsible for it.

Dhe central association of the German retail trade accuses Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) of completely misjudging the serious economic situation of the companies. Scholz, who is also Vice Chancellor, took it as a good sign that the federal government’s corona aid was not being fully used.

“Many tax breaks or deferrals were only used briefly or not at all because the economic situation of many companies developed more favorably than feared and business quickly picked up again,” said Scholz. Stefan Genth, General Manager of the German Trade Association (HDE), rated this statement as “outrageous”. “I’m not sure whether this is due to complete ignorance or sheer mockery,” said the HDE boss to WELT.

The real reason for the incomplete use of support is that it is neither available quickly enough nor is it easy to apply for. “The entry requirements for the aids are not suitable. Scholz is responsible for that, “said Genth:” The money just doesn’t reach the company. “

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Federal and state governments agree-report: hard lockdown will be extended until January 31.

The stationary retail trade beyond supermarkets and drugstores was completely closed for the second time during the pandemic following a corresponding decision on December 13. Instead of feeling the favorable development perceived by Scholz, according to HDE, around 50,000 of the almost 200,000 retail companies in Germany are facing the end, a quarter of a million jobs could be carried away by the decline. “In particular in the fashion trade, regardless of the extended insolvency filing period, numerous companies are already in bankruptcy, thousands of businesses are about to”, the trade association says. The lockdown caused sales losses of 36 billion euros last year alone. Just this week, the Adler fashion stores with over 3,300 employees filed for bankruptcy.

Instead of sales, the bridging aid should in future be based on the gross profit of the company, suggests the retail lobby: This is essentially sales minus the cost of goods. From this gross profit costs for personnel, rent and other expenses have to be paid. Excluding the profit share of an average of five percent, the result is a fixed cost component of around a third of sales, which can be replaced as an operating cost subsidy for the closure phase. “That would be more productive and easy to calculate,” said Genth. This would result in expenditure of 0.22 billion euros for the state per day of sale, which the association considers manageable in view of the billions in aid paid.

At a distance from “We’re opening up”

In 2020, due to bureaucratic hurdles and an unfair treatment of the trade, compared to the catering trade, just 90 million bridging aids were received by trading companies. The HDE boss therefore expects a series of lawsuits, especially from the textile retail sector. If trade in the cities is to survive, instead of state aid, it will soon need, above all, an opening perspective and improved planning of disease control measures.

In future, these would have to take into account changes caused by the vaccination campaign. The current focus on the number of new infections may have to be questioned. “In the opinion of many experts, the incidence value of 50 does not seem attainable for the foreseeable future this spring,” said Genth. “You have to think about whether this is still the right target for dealing with the pandemic.” If the lockdown continues until Easter, hardly any company outside of the grocery trade will survive: “You are currently depriving the textile businesses of the business foundation.”

also read

Dark clouds move over the television tower and the Brandenburg Gate as the sun rises.

Improved protection against infection through a possible obligation to wear FFP2 masks, as is currently the case in Bavaria, could also help to develop appropriate strategies. The general manager of the trade association, on the other hand, categorically rejects the opening of a store contrary to the applicable rules, as propagated by some groups of merchants under the motto “Let’s open”. “I have great respect for the measures taken by the Federal Chancellor and the Prime Minister. We are not the smart ones who know everything better, “he explained:” We distance ourselves from the ‘We open’ initiative because non-trading forces are trying to use it politically. ”

However, there are other initiatives from the industry such as “Retailers stand together”, which clearly show how the measures affected retailers and thus aroused understanding for the industry. The initiative wants to use specific examples to make it clear what the struggle for local existence means and how life’s works are being destroyed by dealers.

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Hubertus Heil on the home office debate: “A very clear message”

Hubertus Heil

The Federal Minister of Labor says: “I am serious about proposals.”

(Photo: dpa)

Berlin Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) has urgently appealed to employers to allow home offices wherever possible. “This is not just any appeal, but a very clear message from the federal and state governments to the economy,” said the SPD politician in an interview with the Handelsblatt.

Many companies acted responsibly. But there are also those who arbitrarily refused to work on the move. “That is irresponsible,” said Heil.

The request to work from home if possible is also directed at the employees – even if he understands that many would like to see their colleagues again. But it is a question of responsibility, and the employees are also deceived.

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Corona emergency aid: The nerves in Berlin are blank

AIn the end he is said to have apologized for the harsh tone. But at first the sub-department head from Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) could not contain himself. The MPs acted as if they and the public had not been informed about changes in the corona aid rules, the experienced official rumbled.

That something could still change was already stated in a joint press release by the Federal Ministry of Finance (BMF) and the Federal Ministry of Economics (BMWi) at the end of November.

Once in a rage, he also pointed out to the members of the finance committee that at the specialist level in the ministries had been working tirelessly for weeks to find the best possible solution for companies – the weekends were wasted in a row. Following the first purely digital meeting of this body, several members of the Bundestag reported it.

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The chairs of a café on the Spree are leaned against the table.  Next Wednesday, the federal-state group wants to decide on how to proceed in the corona pandemic.

The amazement about the performance was great. The CDU MP Olav Gutting tweeted during the closed session: “In the #Finance Committee we are currently experiencing an incredible arrogance of the #BMF.” The minister announced generous aid in November, and now the ministry has declared that those in need should have known that the European aid rules limit that.

The appearance of the Scholz official shows how cold the nerves are now on all levels after the many months of Corona. Not only with the affected entrepreneurs, many of whom are still waiting in vain for the promised aid from the state, but also with the officials who have to legally implement what their ministers decide at the highest government level.

“There was an error”

Most recently, a subsequent addition to the FAQs, the questions and answers on the BMWi website, caused frustration among potential recipients of help and their tax advisors.

Accordingly, the conditions for corona-related corporate aid have been changed as part of bridging aid II, which, unlike the November or December aid, is not about lost sales, but about the reimbursement of operational fixed costs. These ongoing expenses are now only reimbursed if the company can actually demonstrate a loss. The EU Commission insisted on this.

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Payment of November aid is delayed due to an embarrassment

“Technical problems”

This may be taken for granted, as SPD finance committee member Lothar Binding says. “Who would have guessed that the state would support companies that are still making a profit during the crisis?”

But he also finds it “really annoying”, as he says, that, contrary to what ministers Olaf Scholz and Peter Altmaier (CDU) have repeatedly promised, the money does not reach the company quickly and unbureaucratically. “It was a mistake to make it seem like everything was going very quickly,” says Binding.

A subsequent change in the small print, which means that “80 percent to 90 percent of all applications for bridging aid have to be tackled again”, as the President of the German Association of Tax Advisors WELT said, wants the words “Bazooka” and “Wumms” coined by Scholz “Doesn’t quite fit.

Fear of re-election

Altmaier’s Ministry of Economic Affairs clearly misjudged the programming of the payout platform for November aid. It wasn’t finished fast enough that the first regular payouts can only be made now.

Now, depending on the party book of the MP you ask, sometimes the SPD minister, sometimes the CDU minister, is the main culprit for the delays. Whereby these differences are becoming increasingly blurred. It can be observed that patience with both ministers is decreasing.

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“The Bundestag has made a lot of money available to the government, so we can simply expect that they will bring this money to the streets,” says Fritz Güntzler, who sits on the CDU’s finance committee. He is a tax advisor himself.

In the past few weeks, more and more clients – not infrequently CDU voters – have called him and vented their anger about the poor implementation of the aid. Obviously, there is growing concern among the members of the governing parties that the mess of aid will reduce their chances of re-election in the autumn.

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State support

Opposition politicians are now also having very fundamental thoughts. “The coalition must now provide clarity quickly, otherwise not only will confidence in the economic aid dwindle, but in the corona measures as a whole,” says financial politician Danyal Bayaz of the Greens.

When asked about the appearance of the sub-department head in front of the finance committee, Fabio De Masi from the Left Party shows understanding that everyone is under enormous pressure – including in the ministries. “But while we are sitting in warm office, companies are fighting for their existence,” he says. It is already becoming apparent that it will not be easier to keep your nerve.

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