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Factsheet for case HR-2020-14/512 Updated – measures in Croatia

COVID-19 loans for variable capital for microenterprises and SMEs

Odluka o usvajanju Programa »COVID-19 zajam za obrtna sredstva«

Country Croatia , applies nationwide
Time period Open ended, started on 02 April 2020
Type Legislations or other statutory regulations
Category Supporting businesses to stay afloat
– Access to finance
Author Predrag Bejalovic (IJF) and Eurofound
Case created 12 April 2020 (updated 17 July 2020)

Background information

Many small and medium business entities affected by the coronavirus pandemic face serious problems with variable capital. Therefore, the owners demand some form of aid.

Loans to be granted directly to small business entities under this Program include de minimis value in accordance with Commission Regulation (EU) No 1093/2010. 1407/2013 of 18 December 2013 on the application of Articles 107 and 108 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to de minimis aid.

Content of measure

The Croatian Agency for SMEs, Innovation and Investments - HAMAG-BICRO is established by the Government of the Republic of Croatia with the purpose of promoting SME development and promoting investment and innovation. The Agency is an independent institution under the supervision of the Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Crafts. HAMAG-BICRO enables loans to micro, small and medium-sized small business entities.

The target group of financial instruments COVID-19 Loan for variable (working) capital are micro and SME, which are faced with illiquidity problems and require variable capital. The amount of loan is up to HRK 750,000 (€ 100,000) with a maximum repayment period up to 5 years including a grace period of up to 12 months. Interest rate is 0.25% without processing fee.

The differences regarding the previous ESIF Micro working capital loans programs are the lower interest rates, the longer grace period and the possibility of settling accounts up to 3 months before the loan application is received. For this loan cannot apply the entities from fishery, aquaculture and agriculture, producers of tobacco and alcohol, manufacture and trade of weapons and ammunition; casinos and other sectors and activities excluded by the terms of the Program. For this type of loans and for Micro loans for rural development HRK 1.148 billion (€153,067 million) are available.

Updates

The following updates to this measure have been made after it came into effect.

18 June 2020

The Croatian government on its session on 18 June 2020, amended the HAMAG-BICRO agency's schemes for loans for variable capital for businesses affected by the coronavirus crisis. This would enable the granting of further loans to entrepreneurs and in this way make it possible to keep jobs. Mentioned decision by the Croatian government is fully in accordance with a document called The Temporary Framework adopted by the European Commission. The Commission in order to help member-states allows the most of the flexibility envisaged by rules on state support for the business sector affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The amendment of the previous decision (OG 41/20), are following: "after de words minimis aid the full stop is deleted and the following text is added: And/or aid under the Provisional Framework on State Aid adopted by the Commission on 19 March 2020 and amended on 3 April and 8 May 2020".

Use of measure

On 18 June, it was reported that businesses had made good use of loans intended to help businesses affected by the coronavirus crisis and that so far 5,128 requests worth HRK 343 million (€ 45.7 million) had been submitted by 900 businesses.

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Does not apply to workers SMEs
One person or microenterprises
Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
EU (Council, EC, EP)
European Funds
National funds

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role No involvement No involvement
Form Not applicable Not applicable

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • No involvement
  • Main level of involvement: Unknown

Involvement

No involvement.

Views and reactions

On 3 July 2020, the Croatian Employers’ Association (CEA) in its letter to the Government of the Republic of Croatia, asked for clarification and answers to numerous ambiguities arising from the entrepreneur's application for the financial instrument "COVID-19 variable capital loan", approved by the Croatian Agency for Small Business, Innovation and Investment (HAMAG-BICRO). The CEA points out that despite the best intentions and quick reaction of the adoption of this measure, there are numerous omissions that endanger the business of the entrepreneurs and they cannot be tolerated. The biggest problem appeared in the application methodology itself, because it remained unclear whether entrepreneurs can apply only through the Financial Agency (FINA) portal or they have to do it directly through HAMAG-BICRO. Due to these ambiguities, some entrepreneurs have inacceptable applications, although not through their own fault. The COVID-19 variable capital loan was one of the very important measures to help the economy, but it did not yield the expected results. At the beginning of July two months have passed since closing of the tender, and thousands of entrepreneurs who had applied have yet obtain the results whether they will get a loan or not. If a variable capital loan is allowed, then the process needs to be fast in order to immediately affect the liquidity of the company. Otherwise, in a few months, the company may no longer exist.

Sources

  • 23 March 2020: ESIF zajmovi za obrtna sredstva (hamagbicro.hr)
  • 02 April 2020: Odluka o usvajanju Programa »COVID-19 zajam za obrtna sredstva« (narodne-novine.nn.hr)
  • 18 June 2020: Prijedlog odluke o usvajanju dopuna programa "COVID-19 zajam za obrtna sredstva" i "ESIF jamstva" Hrvatske agencije za malo gospodarstvo, inovacije i investicije (vlada.gov.hr)
  • 19 June 2020: Odluka o usvajanju dopuna programa »COVID-19 zajam za obrtna sredstva« i »ESIF jamstva« hrvatske agencije za malo gospodarstvo, inovacije i investicije (narodne-novine.nn.hr)
  • 03 July 2020: Poduzetnici traže hitan odgovor o statusu HAMAG-BICRO kreditnih zajmova za obrtna sredstva (www.hup.hr)

Citation

Eurofound (2020), COVID-19 loans for variable capital for microenterprises and SMEs, case HR-2020-14/512 (measures in Croatia), COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch, Dublin, http://eurofound.link/covid19eupolicywatch

Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process. All information is preliminary and subject to change.