Since it was introduced in March, almost 100,000 Swiss companies have taken government liquidity aid already. But in order to combat abuses, the federal government has introduced safety measures.

 

 

So far CHF 15.9 billion of the CHF 40 billion Swiss government guaranteed credit for SME’s has been used, on average CHF 161’000. Companies can apply for up to 10% of their last annual revenue up to a limit of CHF 500’000. As an emergency cashflow measure, it takes only a few hours from application to when the money is transferred to the company account, and at the outset of the emergency measures this was guaranteed, no questions asked.

However the authorities have got wise to attempts to abuse this financial hand out, which is intended to help normally profitable companies from going insolvent purely due to a temporary cashflow problem; so often the cause of unwarranted bankruptcy. It is not intended that this cash be used carelessly for other purposes leaving the taxpayer to potentially foot the bill later.

The countermeasures to fraudulent abuse to date…

  • Stricter liability of directors regarding loaned money is being considered. It will be the director’s direct personal responsibility to avoid this cash being used for inappropriate purposes and they will be held personally liable for the loan if this can be proven. Although some directors have insurance against their liabilities this will probably not cover these types of infringements.
  • No possibility of spoofing an organisation to acquire funds illegitimately: the company is identified by its registered UID, and as such its financial status is then known (i.e. whether in bankruptcy or administration – which disbars it from applying for a loan).
  • A questionnaire then has then to be completed which ascertains if the company meets the genuine criteria for the credit. Untrue answers can incur a personal fine of up to CHF 100’000.
  • The turnover of the company may be checked to ascertain the real lending limit. This can be done by examining previous VAT bills, or in the case of the self employed who are not VAT registered, recent social payments.

General advice regarding such credit

This credit is designed to avoid a short term cashflow problem, probably caused by fixed overheads, and not to cover an overall loss-maker: it has no direct effect on the P+L. This must not be forgotten when applying. To minimise loss due to decreased business from coronavirus companies are advised to apply for short term working: such compensation is not paid back, and will decrease costs, and therefore any loss.

Ultimately the profitability, and therefore the survivability of many Swiss SME’s is in the hands of the federal government and how well they can manage any exit-strategy. We will be following this carefully!

Footnote:

Founded in 1998, Accurity GmbH has worked with over 400 companies and served more than 3’000 contractors to provide contractor management, and agency intermediary services.

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