STA, 3 September 2021 - During the Covid-19 epidemic, companies received various forms of state aid. Some were not so badly affected and will now have to repay the received subsidies. According to an estimate by the Slovenian Financial Administration (FURS), this amounts to just under EUR 90 million, just over 4% of the total amount paid out.
The first Act Determining the Intervention Measures to Contain the Covid-19 Epidemic and Mitigate its Consequences for Citizens and the Economy was adopted by the National Assembly shortly after the epidemic was first declared last spring. By February this year, the number of "anti-Covid laws" had risen to eight.
One of the first measures was a partial wage subsidy for furloughed workers. The eligibility criterion was initially set at a 30% drop in income compared to pre-Covid times, and then gradually reduced until the end of June, when the measure expired.
Until the end of June, the Employment Service was also paying out wage subsidies for workers who were quarantined or could not come to work due to force majeure, such as childcare.
So far, the Employment Service has paid out EUR 688.7 million for all these measures. Of these, 31,735 employers received a partial wage subsidy for furloughed workers for a total of 215,055 employees.
Meanwhile, 10,104 employers have been subsidised for reduced working hours for a total of 51,060 employees, while 11,088 employers have received wage subsidies for quarantined workers or those absent due to force majeure, for a total of 56,167 employees.
FURS is responsible for monitoring the job retention subsidies paid out and told the STA that according to their first calculations, the recipients will have to pay back a total of EUR 7.4 million in furlough subsidies and EUR 435,000 in subsidies for reduced working hours.
While virtually all sectors have been affected by the epidemic, the Employment Service received the highest number of applications for furlough and reduced hours subsidies from employers in manufacturing, trade and catering.
In addition to measures aimed to preserve jobs, other forms of support were made available to companies, and a monthly basic income was introduced specifically for the self-employed and certain other beneficiaries.
For all forms of subsidies and aid, the emergency laws set out the conditions under which they could be claimed, which were usually set at a certain proportion of income decline compared to the individual beneficiary's performance in pre-Covid times.
The government has encouraged employers to apply for aid if they are in doubt whether they are eligible, as they would be able to pay it back later without interest.
The same assurance was given in mid-April last year by Ivan Simič, then chair of the government's advisory group and now director of FURS.
"If aid recipients find they have not met the conditions, the law allows them to self-report to FURS within 30 days of submitting their return and pay a refund without interest," Simič explained, adding that interest would only be charged in the case of deliberate misrepresentation.
FURS notes that just over 25,000 different taxable persons will now have to repay the state aid they received, totalling EUR 88.6 million. This is around 4.5% of the total amount paid out, which stands just under EUR 2 billion.
Repayments can be made in several instalments, which is what most recipients choose to do. So far, FURS has received around 4,000 such applications and approved just over half of them, totalling EUR 7.2 million.
This year, FURS inspectors also intend to monitor the payment of crisis allowances, the reimbursement of expenses related to temporary measures in the field of infrastructure and the use of funds received by companies to carry out rapid antigen tests.