The food sector will be boosted with working capital totalling 330 million euros to buy raw materials when it reopens, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said after a meeting held at Maximos Mansion on Thursday.
Coffee shops, bars and restaurants will be funded through the EU's National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) 2021-2027, pending the European Commission's approval, and will help these businesses purchase supplies in the first two or three months of reopening, he clarified.
Thousands of businesses - including, for the first time, franchises - will each receive a non-refundable capital boost of up to 100,000 euros. "The sector has already received nearly 1 billion euros in funding," Mitsotakis said, while at least 65,000 of the 77,000 businesses in this sector have benefited from support loans. In addition, he said, "of the sector's 410,000 workers, nearly 260,000 whose contracts were suspended were reimbursed by the government with 720 million euros that supplemented their wages."
The prime minister acknowledged that the government is not prepared to offer a reopening date yet, but understands that the sector may be able to recoup some of the revenues lost "because there is great need for people to go outdoors, to have a good time, to eat and have another drink." The sector has been doing home deliveries or pick-ups during the country's five-month nationwide lockdown, but seating customers is not allowed.
"We are not expecting to cover losses with the plan we announce today," Mitsotakis said, "as all Greek economy sectors and businesses have had losses. But we are here to provide the working capital for buying supplies."
The online application platform will remain open to July 31 and funding must be used by December 31. Evaluations will be processed speedily and the funding disbursed quickly, ministers said.
Elaborating some more, Development & Investments Minister Adonis Georgiadis told Mega TV after the meeting that these businesses are not likely to be reopened before other critical sectors do. He did note they would not reopen anytime over the next two weeks.
This financial support concerns businesses whose turnover dropped more than 30 pct, and will see a return of a 7 pct of their 2019 turnover, said Georgiadis.
The meeting was attended by economy ministers, and members of the federation of restaurateurs and related professions (POESE).