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The eco decryption. Covid-19: towards the end of aid to businesses and “whatever the cost”


The Ministry of Finance and the Economy in Bercy (Paris). Illustrative photo. (ROSINE MAZIN / MAZIN ROSINE / AFP)

Even if the health situation remains tense, the government is preparing to reopen the economy. The resumption of school is also a first sign, because behind, there are economic reasons. When parents are forced to look after children, their productivity declines and economic activity is degraded. If only because they can benefit from partial unemployment, paid by the State. According to a first estimate of the government, this month of April, more than 3 million employees made the request. We are far from the 8.5 million French people in partial unemployment at the height of the first confinement, a year ago. But, this is not neutral for public finances.

This is why during the meeting of Thursday, April 22 with the unions and the employers, the government warned: the support of partial unemployment will be less and less generous. The reductions will be made in stages and they will be adapted according to the sectors, if they are more or less damaged, but, the government plans to pass the remainder to the companies, those in any case which are not the object administrative closure, from 15 to 40% from June.

More generally, the government is working to lift aid measures. He prepares what he calls “the last mile”, in reference to the last mile to travel for parcel delivery, which is also known to be the most expensive and the most difficult to achieve. The executive begins to prepare the spirits for the end of the “whatever the cost” : As the sanitary straitjacket will loosen, as non-essential businesses will reopen, probably in mid-May, as activity will resume, support for businesses will be reduced. Here again, the adjustments have not yet been finalized, but Bercy is studying a system of degression of aid from the Solidarity Fund for the coming months.

Bruno Le Maire, the Minister of the Economy repeated it again: no question of abandoning companies in difficulty, those that risk bankruptcy in the coming months. Proof of this is this announcement by the Minister: the loans guaranteed by the State, which were to stop in June, will be extended for six more months, until December 31. Since March 2020, Bercy has granted grants to 675,000 companies, or 137 billion euros advanced. Clearly, the government does not expect an influx of requests when the device has been in existence for a year, but it is a signal to reassure business leaders and show that it remains by their side.

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