Government extended the guarantee scheme for firms; the State will subsidise children’s groups and labs sequencing coronavirus strains

At the time of the coronavirus epidemic, the State will provide firms with guarantees on loans for investments. Andrej Babiš’s cabinet approved extending the current Covid III scheme at its meeting on Monday, 12 April 2021. It also agreed with opening a subsidy scheme to support children’s groups, and with the State paying labs for sequencing SARS-CoV-2 samples for the presence of new mutations.

The Covid III guarantee programme will be newly changed to Covid III – Modification Invest. Through it, firms will obtain guarantees from the Czech-Moravian Guarantee and Development Bank also for commercial loans for investments. So far, the State used the scheme to guarantee only operating loans. With the State guarantee, businesses will be able to borrow up to CZK 90 million for investments. Enterprises with no more than 250 employees will receive a guarantee at up to 90 percent of the principal for loans not exceeding 50 million, or up to 50 percent for loans not exceeding 90 million. For enterprises with maximum 500 employees, the guarantee will be up to 80 percent for loans not exceeding 50 million, or up to 50 percent of the principal for loans not exceeding 80 million.

The government endorsed a proposal to create an extraordinary subsidy scheme for children’s groups for 2021. The scheme will be allocated with CZK 74.2 million and children’s group operators who have lost a significant part of their income due to the epidemic will be able to apply for a subsidy contributing to the rent and compensating the increased costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic. While in the case of the rent subsidy, applicants will have to give up financial support from the European Social Fund, the subsidy for increased costs related to the pandemic will be granted to all providers of services in children’s groups, who will apply for it. For more details see the press release of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (in Czech language).

The State will contribute to laboratories and other centres carrying out sequencing of samples taken from COVID-19 tested persons. The so-called whole genome sequencing helps to detect new dangerous mutations of the coronavirus in the Czech population. Academic and medical labs that currently carry out this activity cover the costs from the budget of their mother institutions, or from other resources for research, and their staff are not rewarded for the activity in any way. The processing of one sample costs an estimated CZK 3,500. Therefore, the government approved the intent to create a subsidy scheme to pay the costs of sample sequencing. The programme will offer CZK 161.28 million, which should cover the expected expenditure on sequencing up to the end of the year.

The cabinet approved the intent of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance to expand the current full pardon for value added tax to FFP2 respirators and in vitro diagnostic medical devices for COVID-19 and antibody testing, and for goods imported from third countries or from other EU Member States. The decision in force on the value added tax relief in connection with an emergency caused by the coronavirus spread now applies only to domestic products.

The government also discussed several changes in the extraordinary measures of the Ministry of Health. The Ministry modified the rules for testing children with autism, mental illness and other disabilities which make it impossible to carry out the preventive testing that conditions the in-person participation in school and pre-school education where such form of learning is permitted. The Ministry also adjusted the rules for sitting final examinations, secondary school leaving examinations and graduation examinations in post-secondary vocational schools. It newly permitted group consultations for pupils in the last grade of schools and in the fourth grade of six-year education programmes of conservatories, or for pupils at risk of school failure from other grades, even at secondary schools, post-secondary vocational schools and conservatories, with one group not exceeding six pupils.

Social service providers must limit the provision of social services to the necessary extent in order to protect the lives and health of persons. The regulation defines the conditions under which the services may be provided, such as wearing respirators when providing field services to clients.

In line with the Pandemic Act, the cabinet retrospectively approved a change in the measure restricting gatherings so that only two persons may meet in one place at organised events. An exception are weddings, civil partnership ceremonies and funerals, which may be attended by maximum fifteen persons at one place.

The government discussed the co-financing rules of the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund+, the Cohesion Fund, the Just Transition Fund, the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund, the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund, the Internal Security Fund and the instrument for financial support for border management and visa for the 2021-2027 programming period. The rules set the maximum share of the State budget in the mandatory national co-financing provided by each type of beneficiaries who will be involved in spending the European Union funding in the 2021-2027 programming period.

The government approved the Housing Policy of the Czech Republic 2021+, which builds on the current, revised policy up to 2020. The objective of the concept is to ensure accessible, stable and sustainable housing, and it newly covers the need to use modern construction technologies. For more information see the press release of the Ministry of Regional Development (in Czech language).