Peter Altmaier and Olaf Scholz have always been generous in the corona crisis. The finance minister compared the state aid programs to a bazooka. The Minister of Economic Affairs promised support for everyone, quickly and unbureaucratically. But while the willingness to help with the public announcements seemed almost limitless, it is now trimmed afterwards.
The federal government has quietly changed the conditions for bridging aid for small and medium-sized enterprises. Only those who have made losses during the period are now entitled to apply. There is no longer only talk of lost sales, but also of uncovered fixed costs that must be present. State support can thus be capped more tightly.
The same applies to the so-called November and December aid, with which Altmaier and Scholz wanted to help restaurants, hotels and others through the second lockdown. At least for higher sums, the stricter rules now also apply here.
In contrast to the generous promises of help, the new restrictions were only included in the small print of the extensive catalog of criteria. The tax consultants and auditors who have to submit applications for assistance for entrepreneurs are not happy about this. Are you really supposed to go through dozens of pages a day looking for possible changes?
The companies that have already applied for help must also tremble. In addition to the existential fears that already prevail due to the pandemic, some are now afraid of having to repay aid later.
The subsequent changes are necessary due to state aid agreements with the EU. And they may well be justified in the matter: The state, i.e. ultimately the taxpayers, should not help companies that are still making profits. Even if that shouldn’t be many.
But even if the financial damage to the companies in need is not so great in the end, it is certainly not so great for trust in the crisis management of politics. Above all, the November and December aid, devised in the Ministry of Finance, is a failure. At first they showed themselves to be extremely generous with the state reimbursement of sales, then the help was gradually restricted.
So they were no longer granted to retailers, even though they had to close in December. And the November aid has still not been paid out in full. With the November aid, Olaf Scholz did not at least underpin his claim that he could face a crisis.
More: The Corona November aid should finally be paid – but hurdles remain.