In its extraordinary session held on March 13th, the Federal Council took various key measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic that is affecting our country.
Some of these measures are specifically aimed at supporting the Swiss economy. The most important are:
- Injection of a CHF 10 billion emergency aid package to cushion the shock and primarily to ensure payment of salaries. Up to CHF 8 billion may be drawn from the unemployment insurance fund for short-time working. The waiting period is reduced to one day instead of two or three until September 30th 2020, and further administrative simplifications are announced. The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) is instructed to assess by March 20th, the advisability of extending the right to short-time working to employees with fixed-term (non-cancellable) employment contracts and temporary workers. If necessary, the FH recommends that its members contact their employers' association or the Convention patronale de l’industrie horlogère Suisse (Swiss watch employers’ association).
- Financial support of up to CHF 1 billion to companies that are particularly badly hit in order to provide direct financial assistance or bridging finance to provide them with the necessary cashflow. The evaluation will be carried out under the guidance of the Federal Department of Finance.
- Guaranteed bank loans totalling CHF 580 million in favour of small and medium-sized businesses. The conditions for granting these loans will be eased, with the Confederation bearing the one-off costs of assessing the applications and the risk premiums for companies in the first year of the guarantee. The guarantee cooperatives recognised by the Confederation (three regional cooperatives and one women's cooperative) are non-profit-making and open to companies from all sectors:
- Ostschweizerische Bürgschaftsgenossenschaft, St Gallen (www.obtg.ch)
- Coopérative de cautionnement pour PME (BG Mitte - CC Centre), Berthoud (www.bgm-ccc.ch)
- Cautionnement romand, société coopérative, Lausanne (www.crcpme.ch)
- Coopérative de cautionnement des femmes, Basel (www.saffa.ch)
The FH is of course closely monitoring developments in the situation, and in particular any additional measures that may be taken by the Federal Council.
March 18, 2020