Minister Köstinger and WKÖ division head Pulker debate with landlady Brigitte Blanka, who was caught in the cold by the crisis.
COURIER: Woman Blanka, You are the tenant of the inn Waldhof in Maria Gugging. What outweighs you: The relief that you can host guests again, or the concern for the future?
Brigitte Blanka: I am pleased that I can now host guests again, but the worry predominates. I have sleepless nights.
What steals your sleep?
Blanka: Because I have no idea what’s to come. I am a very careful person, only invest money that I also own. But at the moment my accounts look terrible. I don’t know if I’m doing the sales that I used to make. Before Corona we were always reserved at the weekend. Now I had to reduce my capacity to 60 percent, but I’m not reserved.
You have registered your employees for short-time work. Would you do it again today?
Blanka: I would not choose the path of short-time work again. First, because I thought the lockdown would only take three weeks. Second, because the submission was incredibly complicated. I tried to fill everything out correctly, but I don’t know if I actually did it right. If there is an error now, I hope that AMS doesn’t consider it a scam. Even my pay calculator got out of the forms. The short-time work permit took six weeks, and I haven’t received any money yet.
woman Köstinger, You nod. The Federal government has announced that it will help “quickly and unbureaucratically”. It doesn’t all sound like that …
Elisabeth Köstinger: Short-time work was originally not for tourism and the gastronomy designed. It is an instrument from the last economic crisis for industry. It works very well there. We tried to use this instrument as best we can gastronomy and adapt and improve tourism.
With the host package, the restaurateurs criticize the fact that the finance minister spoke of a relief of 200 million euros in the sales tax reduction. But that was expected with the turnover of 2019, which the gastronomy 2020 will not reach. In fact, the support is much less …
Köstinger: We primarily wanted to provide relief where the restaurateur does not have to fill out a form again. The reduction in sales tax can be changed relatively easily at the cash register. As a result, this measure can be felt quickly and is effective with every consumption. We are with the gastronomy compared to many other countries with very low tax rates. Sales tax on non-alcoholic beverages was one of the few areas where we could still start. A tax cut on alcoholic beverages would be difficult under EU law.
Mr Pulker, how many corona bankruptcies does the Chamber of Commerce expect?
Mario Pulker: We assume 10 to 15 percent. In the first 14 days, it hit those companies that had negative equity, no positive balance sheets and a debt repayment period of more than 15 years in the past two years. In such a situation, no bank gives you more money. The industry ‘s weak equity is evident because we are in Austria offer incredible quality. We are actually too cheap for the high quality we offer. Profitability has remained the same despite increasing sales. This is the problem that is becoming apparent now that there is no income for a few weeks.
Now the state gives the 100 percent guarantee on the loans. The banks continue to insist on personal liability when granting loans, and check according to the strict Basel III criteria. Has it government neglected here at the EU to apply for loan easing?
Köstinger: We generally had to wait a very long time before we left Brussels got the okay for the 100 percent guarantee. In the area of Austrian hotel and Tourist bank we now offer three models: 80, 90 or 100 percent liability. We are in close contact with the banks, and the finance minister is putting a lot of pressure on this. It works very well for some banks and less for some. There is definitely scope for interpretation.
The neos call for a bank moratorium where loan payments are suspended for one year. Think that government such a measure?
Köstinger: We are in the process of negotiating with the banks.
woman Blanka, you have a loan from the Austrian Hotel and Tourist bank requested to go through the crisis get?
Blanka: No, because the loan is limited to three years. It was too risky for me not to get the repayment and then into that insolvency will be sent. I did everything with my house bank. For the past eight years, I’ve always had a balanced account, which is good for me now.
Köstinger: In the meantime, we have increased the term for many assumptions of liability to five years.
The European Investment Bankwhere your party colleague Willi Molterer Is vice president, would assume default liability, says Neos MP Sepp Schellhorn. Has the government knocked here already?
Köstinger: The Ministry of Finance is in intensive exchange here in order to make this model practical. We quickly saw where the difficulties lie: it is often not the Austrian hotel and Tourist bankthat blocked here, but the house bank.
Weddings are a major source of income for the industry. The first cultural events are permitted from May 29th. From this point on does it also apply that weddings can take place again?
Köstinger: It makes a difference whether I am invited to a party, where the atmosphere can be more exuberant and the safety distance is not maintained, or if I am sitting in a public room a meter away and listening to a performance. That is why night catering, weddings and larger celebrations are such a challenge for us. In one community we had the case of a family celebration with 45 people. After that, 36 were infected and there were two Deaths. This is our dilemma that even though we have made the first wave well, we cannot be reckless. The rules now for the gastronomy we will evaluate in the next few weeks and then decide whether and when further easing is possible.
The hotels will open again in two weeks, until now the operators have not been aware of the security requirements. There is a lot of impatience here. When will the decree finally come?
Köstinger: We are working flat out to make sure that Ministry of Health published the rules as soon as possible.
That was very diplomatic now. So you are waiting for the guidelines yourself …
Köstinger: Mario Pulker knows how intensively we are working on making the rules practical. Together with the Chamber of Commerce, we use a lot of days and nights to convince the epidemiologists that we cannot regulate everything down to the smallest detail, but that all entrepreneurs have understood that this is a pandemic and that we are therefore careful.
The city Vienna has now announced a 50 euro restaurant voucher for each household. The Chamber of Commerce is happy about the action, even if it is from the SPÖ Vienna is coming?
Pulker: The federal government has that Aid package laced of 500 million euros, Lower Austria supports the gastronomy with 22 million, Vienna sends the vouchers, which make up 40 million and Tyrol assumes the interest for the liability loans. Each state has found its own way. I think it’s time for the industry to be grateful for once. Because there are 160 industries in total. There are none for the others Aid packages. Instead, it is whined that the host package is just a drop in the bucket. There are bus operators where the buses are parked and the leasing rates continue.
How much will Ischgl harm tourism?
Köstinger: The Tyroleans have set up a commission of inquiry, and if mistakes have occurred there, the lessons must be learned from them. But we see that the booking situation for Tyrol is very good. But I wouldn’t take all the tourism hostage because of a bar. 70 percent of the guests in the regions are regular guests. Fighting the fast virus has also brought us a very good reputation abroad. I think this Black Peter game is absolutely wrong.
A remarkable 11,000 infections are found across Europe Ischgl back. For such a small place it is enormous …
Köstinger: The decisions were made partly on the basis of health authorities. This must now be worked through without gaps.