In two weeks, it will be a year since Belgium went into lockdown for the first time. Since then, many businesses have suffered greatly due to extended periods of enforced closure. For example, bars and restaurants have been open for just 4 and a half months during the past year and even when they were allowed to open strict measures were in force.
A large number of business are experiencing difficulties. More than 4 out of 10 of them need extra capital to buy new stock for the spring. Many clothing retailers for example have cash flow issues due to a disappointing winter sales period. The hospitality industry too will need cash in order to stock up on food and drink ahead of reopening, whenever that might be. Suppliers, many of whom have suffered too as a result of the crisis, are often not willing to offer shops, bars and restaurants deferral of payment.
Ms Crevits told VRT Radio 1 that "Fashion retailers have had a very bad year and they now need to place orders for the coming season. It is really tough for them”.
"The Flemish Government decided yesterday to launch a relaunch loan. This is a loan at a very favourable rate of interest to resolve immediate cashflow issues. As a retailer you will have to pay some of the deposit yourself, but the Flemish authorities will make up the rest”.
Meanwhile, the Flemish Government has extended the measures contained in the so-called protection mechanism until the end of April. Due to the prolonged period of closure many businesses in the hospitality and events industries are in very great difficulty.
How does the relaunch loan work?
· 1% interest
· Repayable over 2 or 3 years depending on the sum lent.
· First repayment after 12 months.
· Minimum sum loaned to be 10,000 euro.
· For loans up to 50,000 euro the sum loaned can be a maximum of 80% of the funds required to relaunch. Repayments over 24 months.
· For loans exceeding 50,000 euro the sum lent can be no more than 50% of the amount required to start up again. Repayments over 36 months.
· Only businesses that were fundamentally sound prior to the crisis will be considered for a loan.