81% of Bulgarian companies say government aid for wage payment is useless, poll shows

By bne IntelliNews May 11, 2020

81% of Bulgarian companies would not apply for state aid for payment of wages as they consider it to be useless, a poll carried out among the managers of 584 companies by the Bulgarian Industrial Association (BIA) showed on May 11.

The government adopted a BGN4.5bn (€2.3bn) pack of measures that were supposed to help the local economy to survive the coronavirus (COVID-19)-related crisis. Among the measures is payment of 60% of gross wages to employees if the employer agrees to pay the remaining 40%.

BIA has many times objected the measure and has urged the government to allow companies not to pay their share of wages but only to give employees the 60% - a sum that is equal to what they would get if they are laid off.

According to the poll, only 4% of companies have applied for the 60% aid, while 6% plan to apply and 8.5% have not decided whether to apply yet.

BIA’s poll also showed that 73% of companies have been forced to lay off staff, while 15% had to cut wages.

Another measure adopted by the government – cheap loans provided by the state-owned Bulgarian Development Bank (BDB) – also was not welcomed by business. 53% of polled managers responded that this measure does not answer their needs. 15% have applied for a loan and 32% have not yet decided whether to use such loans.

57% of respondents said they need up to BGN20,000 a month to cover their costs, 25% need between BGN20,000 and BGN50,000 and 10% need more than BGN100,000.

34% expect to recover their business within a year, while 33% believe this would take more than a year. Around 29% expect the recovery to take three to six months.

The poll also showed that 65% of companies want the state to allow deferred tax payment and other tax reductions. 53% of the companies believe the financial support is most important, including cheap loans, state aid and schemes that would help them retain workers. 22% expect measures aiming to support specific economic sectors.

Bulgaria declared a state of emergency over the coronavirus outbreak on March 13 and plans to end it on May 13.

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