3. Support for businesses and self-employed persons
Chatbot and hotline for companies and self-employed persons
In order to advise Geneva companies and self-employed people as accurately as possible about their requests for support related to the coronavirus crisis, the department of economic development (DDE) has set up a chatbot, able to respond more quickly and accurately to requests. This chatbot reinforces the hotline (+41 22 388 34 34) which has been running for more than a week.
95 million for guarantee credits
In order to alleviate the cash-flow problems of businesses in the canton, the State parliament has, on the initiative of the department of economic development (DDE), strengthened the services provided by the Business Support Foundation (Fondation d'Aide aux Entreprises - FAE) by authorising the latter to increase the amount of its guarantees up to CHF 95 million. A memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed on 16 March 2020 by the leading banks, the FAE and the DDE. The commitment made by the Geneva Cantonal Bank (BCGE), by Raiffeisen Bank, UBS and Credit Suisse is intended to facilitate and accelerate the procedures for obtaining secured loans.
50 million for cash requirements
An amendment to the Business Assistance Act (loi sur l'aide aux entreprises - LAE; I 1 37), initiated by the DDE, now allows the FAE to use a credit line of CHF 50 million and thus to respond immediately to the cash-flow needs of companies, self-employed persons, associations and any other legal entity that find themselves temporarily short of cash for exceptional reasons. During its meeting on 18 March 2020, the State Council decided on the release of an initial amount of CHF 10 million from this credit line. At the practical level, a regulation has been drawn up to define the conditions and eligibility criteria to be granted this financing. An online application form for processing funding requests has been set up and the FAE website has been completely remodeled to meet the needs. The number of documents required to compile the file has also been reduced and, to speed up the processing of applications, the requirement to produce a recent statement from the Office of Legal Proceedings has been replaced by a consent declaration issued by the applicant. In addition to the new resources allocated to the foundation for guarantees and loans, the FAE has decided to suspend with immediate effect the depreciations normally required from companies benefiting from financial support.
Digitisation of the offer of restaurants and retail outlets for home delivery
In order to guarantee the continuity of supply services to the population and to support public establishments that can no longer accommodate customers, the Geneva Coffee, Catering and Hotels Society (Société des Cafetiers Restaurateurs Hôteliers de Genève - SCRHG) has been appointed to speed up the digitisation of the Geneva restaurants' offer and to develop their home delivery capacity. This task consists of supporting the integration of restaurants (creation of accounts, online publication of menus, photography of dishes, etc.) that so wish into one or more Geneva home delivery platforms, which have undertaken to offer restaurant affiliation fees and, as far as possible, to reduce delivery costs and/or their commission.
Another approach aims to strengthen the home delivery and digitisation capacities of Geneva's retail trade, in close partnership with the taxi sector.
Deferral of water and electricity services (SIG) invoices for companies
The Industrial Services of Geneva (Services industriels de Genève - SIG) have agreed to extend the due date of fluid invoices for companies.
Deferral of tax instalments
For tax purposes, an advance payment deferral is also currently being considered. Other tangible measures should follow as early as of next week.
Payment of government dues upon receipt
Furthermore, the State is examining all other practical solutions to temporarily alleviate the financial burden on companies and individuals. It has made the necessary changes regarding payment of its dues upon receipt and no longer at thirty days.