SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Dutch government has allocated a further €7.6bn to support companies hit by the coronavirus pandemic and is setting up a separate scheme to help new firms, the finance and economic affairs ministries have announced.
‘We continue to spend a lot of money,’ finance minister Wopke Hoekstra told reporters. ‘We are doing everything we can to limit the damage for entrepreneurs as much as possible and to ensure that the country can move forward at full speed once the virus is under control.’
New companies have largely been side-lined in the existing agreements because the support that was available was based on their earlier performance. From April, however, new firms will be able to make a claim for help in paying fixed costs, based on their turnover in the third quarter of last year.
Ministers are also increasing the amount given to pay for fixed costs such as rent to 80%, rather than 70%, support to pay wages will go up, and they will dish out more to pay for stock which has not been sold because of the pandemic.
Government information on the new support ‘The conversation about the survival of the fittest is no longer taking place,’ economist Mathijs Bouman told broadcaster NOS. With the end of the pandemic in sight thanks to the vaccine, the government would appear to want to help every company make it through the crisis, he said.
Ministers are also setting up a €300m guarantee fund for events, so that organisers can start preparing summer festivals and sports events without fearing they will be left to pick up the bill if coronavirus leads to cancellations.
The events sector urged the government to set up a fund earlier this month. Insurance companies which normally cover events against cancellation have excluded events cancelled due to coronavirus from their policies.
Event organisers have welcomed the move but point out that the start date of July 1 means festivals such as Pinkpop and Paaspop are automatically excluded because they take place in spring.