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EC approves new Croatian loan, loan guarantee programme

ZAGREB, May 13 (Hina) – The European Commission has approved another loan and loan guarantee programme for Croatia amounting to almost €322 million, intended for micro and SMEs affected by the coronavirus pandemic and the programme will be managed by the Hamag-Bicro agency, the Finance Ministry said on Wednesday.

The EC approved the programme on Tuesday based on the State Aid Temporary Framework adopted on March 19 and amended on April 5 and May 8.

The Finance Ministry carried a statement on its web site by Executive Vice-President of the European Commission for a Europe fit for the Digital Age (Competition), Margrethe Vestager, according to which Croatia’s €322 million scheme would facilitate access to financing for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We continue to work closely with the Member States to ensure that European businesses have access to urgently needed liquidity,” Vestager said as reported by the European Commission on its web site.

The Croatian ministry said that the support programme will be in the form of subsidised loans and state guarantees for loans that will be managed by Hamag-Bicro, the Croatian Agency for SMEs, Innovations and Investments.

The programme is aimed at improving access to external financing for micro and small and medium-sized enterprises that have been hit the hardest by the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, which will secure the continuation of their activities.

The European Commission determined that the Croatian scheme meets the criteria set by the Temporary Framework – it provides loans and guarantees for operating capital with a limited maturity and amount; the risk taken over by the state is limited; it ensures appropriate compensation for guarantees and contains protective measures so that banks and other financial institutions can effectively direct aid to beneficiaries who need it, the ministry said.

Early April the EC approved two Croatian programmes to ensure liquidity for the business sector. On April 6 it approved a Croatian Reconstruction and Development Bank (HBOR) programme ensuring liquidity for exporters through insurance policies, which ensured total credit potential of about €800 million. A few days later, on April 9, the EC approved a programme earmarked for SMEs and large enterprises as an instrument of favourable loans from HBOR and state-subsidised interest and the total credit potential for that measure was estimated at €1 billion.

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