US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — The corona pandemic is growing out of the economic crisis, as the first to feel that those who do not have big financial cushions: such as the self-employed and small entrepreneurs. After the federal states, the federal government has now launched an emergency aid program.
“We don’t leave anyone alone,” promised Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier when he presented the federal government’s Corona program.
There should be and there will be “no solidarity gap”. As of today, the federal states can now call up up to 50 billion euros from the federal government to distribute them to needy self-employed people and companies with up to ten employees. The federal and state governments had agreed on a corresponding administrative agreement on Sunday evening.
However, there are already so many applicants that the web portals, which many federal states have set up in a hurry, keep collapsing. There are long waiting times.
Anyone who wants immediate federal assistance must apply to the state. The federal states distribute the federal money – usually in combined application procedures. Solo self-employed persons and companies with up to five employees can apply for up to € 9,000 for three months, and companies with up to ten employees can receive up to € 15,000 from federal funds.
In addition, many countries increase the federal emergency aid through their own funds, as a non-repayable grant or in some cases as a loan. Larger companies with more than ten employees are often involved. Emergency aid for freelancers and small businesses is often offset against federal funds – but also not always. The regulations differ from state to state.
Berlin, for example, pays solo self-employed people who get into difficulties due to the corona crisis, 5,000 euros, Hamburg 2,500 euros. Rhineland-Palatinate offers companies instant loans in addition to federal funding.
24 hours in the digital queue
The Berlin Senate initially provided 300 million euros in state funds, and since Friday emergency aid can be applied for on the side of the Investitionsbank Berlin (IBB). 100 million have also already flowed into a second aid package for interest-free loans to small and medium-sized companies.
However, the demand for the loans was so high that the IBB suspended the program after a short time until new funds were available. Berlin-based self-employed and small business owners can still apply for emergency aid – but they have to be patient. The system is permanently overloaded, there is a digital queue with over 300,000 applicants. Sometimes even that is overloaded. There is talk of a waiting time of up to 24 hours.
Since the rush for emergency aid is so great, the pot is likely to be increased, according to the Senate Department for Finance. Senator Matthias Kollatz (SPD) has just expanded Berlin’s means to combat the consequences of the corona pandemic from 600 million to one billion.
Other countries have also started to distribute funds. According to media reports, Bavaria already paid out over 100 million last week – from state funds. If necessary, affected companies could increase federal funds, according to Bavaria. Brandenburg and Lower Saxony started paying out on Friday. According to its own information, NRW has already approved 100,000 applications.
There is no uniform system between the countries, each country has developed its own procedure. While it was even possible to apply for postal aids in Bavaria last week, other countries such as Baden-Württemberg or Hesse do not accept applications sent by post. You have created web portals where previously completed applications can be submitted as PDF files.
Hessen expects 200,000 applications and has budgeted two billion euros in funding. On Monday afternoon, however, the system was so overloaded that no applications could be sent. The same applies to North Rhine-Westphalia and Saxony. Applicants have to expect longer waiting times.
“The money is not gone yet”
These technical difficulties give those affected the impression that they are missing something – or that the money is already gone. Distributed to the many many needy. Corresponding rumors were circulating on social media.
“That’s not true, the money is not gone yet,” emphasizes the spokeswoman for the Berlin Senate Department for Finance, Eva Henkel. On the contrary, readjustments are made in case of doubt. It was difficult to estimate in advance how many people would apply for emergency aid. Around 80 percent of Berlin’s companies belong to the group of solo self-employed and small businesses, but the numbers fluctuate.
Between 100,000 and 300,000 applications were expected – in the worst case. Now it looks as if this has occurred. “No system can withstand this,” says Henkel. She campaigns for understanding of this state of emergency and makes it clear: “There are people sitting there who are processing all applications with high pressure.”
Now that the federal funds are available, the shortages from the state funds should be less, one hopes in the Federal Ministry of Economics. “The emergency aid package comprises 50 billion euros, which will only be paid out as of today. So the question does not initially arise as to whether there should be an increase,” said Korbinian Wagner, spokesman for the Ministry of Economic Affairs.
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The article is written and prepared by our foreign editors from different countries around the world – material edited and published by Ordo News staff in our US newsroom press.