Portugal ploughs another €300 million in grant aid for shops, restaurants and small businesses

Portugal has announced another €300 million in grant aid for shops, restaurants and small businesses crippled by the financial crisis brought on by measures to curb the pandemic.

The new plan is designed to cover up to 50% of rents during the first half of next year.

Explain reports, the measures “meet some of the demands of employers’ associations, especially owners of retail stores, hotels and restaurants whose revenues have plummeted due to restrictions imposed by the government to fight the virus”.

But whether they will be enough is the big question. A recent survey by hoteliers and hospitality association AHRESP showed that 65% of the nation’s restaurants are already two if not three rents in arrears. The government’s new scheme will only open for candidates in January. It really is a question of can businesses wait that long.

For now, the nitty gritty of the plan has been sketched out by economy minister Pedro Siza Vieira: companies with a 25% to 40% drop in revenue during the first half of 2020 from a year earlier will receive aid equivalent to 30% of their monthly rent, up to a maximum of 1,200 euros per month.

If the revenue drop exceeds 40%, the grant will correspond to 50% of the monthly rent, with a cap of 2,000 euros per month.

Said the minister, the new support measures should cover 95% or more of the commercial rents in the country.

The government is also described as preparing a draft law that determines that the end of any commercial rents should be frozen until June 30, 2021. This way tenants will be able to remain in the premises after the final date set in their contract as long as they pay the stipulated rent.

And for businesses that have been forcibly closed since March – essentially nightclubs and discotheques – the payment of rents for 2020 has been ‘bounced to the beginning of 2022’, writes Correio da Manhã. These businesses will also see their rental contracts ‘extended’ by the length of time they have been forcibly closed.

Pedro Siza Vieira stressed the latest financial support measures “do not contain the millions of the European bazooka” – which has finally been ‘green-lighted’ for imminent release – and come on top of other support packages under the Apoiar.pt scheme which has already received over 36,000 requests for help and approved payments of €339 million.

According to Reuters, the PS executive expects the Portuguese economy to grow 5.4% in 2021 after this year’s projected slump of 8.5% – the worst recession in the best part of 100 years.

Said Mr Siza Vieira yesterday, while GDP in Portugal is expected to contract by €17.3 billion this year, the government support measures “have already totalled €21 billion, including €7.2 billion in grants”.

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