German government extends coronavirus economic aid to firms

Berlin, June 9, (dpa/GNA) - The German government is extending its state aid scheme for businesses that have been particularly badly hit by the coronavirus crisis.

The programme for companies and the self-employed will be continued until September 30.

Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said that while Germany’s "economic engine" was running, the exit strategy from the pandemic would have to proceed gradually, and that extending the scheme beyond its intended close at the end of this month was an important signal.

Finance Minister Olaf Scholz stressed that Germany had weathered the pandemic economically better than many others because the government had provided decisive aid.

"This support will not be stopped short of the goal,” he said. “That would be economic nonsense." He added that even as Germany’s falling infection rates figures gave hope for an end to the pandemic, many companies are still affected by its consequences.

Scholz said that companies receiving the extended bridging aid would not be allowed to distribute profits and dividends. This also applies to the payment of bonuses and the repurchase of shares.

The aid is the government's main tool to cushion the consequences of the pandemic on jobs and companies. The extension also raises the ceiling for the subsidies after larger companies from the fashion and hotel industries complained that they had not received the aid so far.

At the same time, companies that take employees out of short-time work earlier or hire new employees will receive a "restart bonus."

On Wednesday, the federal government also decided that simplified access to short-time work would be extended again.