The Federal Council wants to increase the economic aid because of the coronavirus pandemic. He asked parliament to double the funds for hardship cases to five billion francs. He also wants to extend the daily allowance period for the unemployed by three months.
Currently, the federal government and the cantons have a total of CHF 2.5 billion available for basically solid companies that got into distress through no fault of their own due to the Corona measures. According to projections, however, the Federal Council assumes that the money will not be enough if all the companies concerned seek help or if the health measures are extended again at the end of February.
The Federal Council therefore wants to make more money for these cantonal hardship programs. In the spring session, he asked Parliament to increase the total amount from the Confederation and the cantons by a further CHF 2.5 billion to a total of CHF 5 billion. The federal government proposes that it will take over two thirds or 1.675 billion of these additional funds and the cantons the rest.
At the current time, the implementation of the compassionate use program has the highest priority, said the Federal Council. It is currently the best instrument for a targeted cushioning of the negative economic consequences of Covid-19. Hardship payments from the cantons are available more quickly than new loans. In addition, the most affected companies would for the most part not demand any loans but non-repayable contributions (à-fonds-perdu-contributions).
Plan B for SMEs is being prepared
In addition, the federal government is preparing a new version of a Covid solidarity guarantee system with the banks in the event of a deterioration in the credit market. The focus is on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that did not receive a loan in the first virus wave in spring 2020. The Confederation is also brooding over ways to support the cantons in securing the tourist transport infrastructure.
For the unemployed, the Federal Council is proposing an extension of the daily allowance period by three months. From the government’s point of view, these should not be disadvantaged because of the current difficult situation on the labor market. Parliament should therefore adapt the Covid-19 law accordingly.
Billions for unemployment insurance
And finally, according to the will of the government, the federal government should, as in the previous year, cover the costs of unemployment insurance (ALV) for the short-time work allowances paid out in 2021. This should also happen if the fund reaches the debt ceiling. The Federal Council estimates the costs for the federal budget at around six billion francs.
The Federal Council wants to pass its message for the changes in the law relating to economic aid on February 3rd. Parliament should discuss these in the spring session.