In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Croatian state authorities and various institutions introduced a number of measures with the purpose of mitigating the adverse effects the pandemic has on the Croatian economy. Particular emphasis of these measures has been put on the protection of businesses and individuals.
Below is a high-level overview of measures introduced to date. Due to the exceptionally dynamic development of measures to combat the COVID-19 and given that certain measures are only in a form of recommendations or pending proposals, for the most up to date and precise advice please contact our team and we will provide you with requested inputs as soon as practically possible.
I. DEBT, ENFORCEMENT, NEW LOANS
1. Suspension of enforcement
Commercial banks should suspend all enforcement proceedings against all natural and legal persons who, for three consecutive months starting in April 2020, fail to settle three loan instalments, provided that the bank granting the suspension is not disadvantaged in relation to other creditors. Such suspension should last for a period of 3 months.
2. Provision of liquidity and working capital loans
Entrepreneurs may request from the Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development (“HBOR”), as well as commercial banks to be granted with liquidity and working capital loans with maturity of up to 3 years and with the purpose of financing basic business costs. Loans for financing existing credit obligations towards other financial institutions are explicitly excluded from this measure.
3. Debt restructuring
Existing clients may request from HBOR to be provided with debt restructuring and moratorium in repayment of the loan principal.
Credit institutions should provide debt restructuring to designated clients in an expedited procedure without labelling them as defaulting clients.
4. Moratorium on loan repayment
HBOR may be requested to introduce a moratorium on all existing loan grants.
Credit institutions should promptly and in good faith consider and approve all requests of endangered clients (whose creditworthiness is impaired, or incomes reduced) for payment delays in the duration of at least 3 months. At the time of the moratorium, credit institutions should only charge regularly contractual interest, with no additional charges.
5. Applying for certain measures
The Financial Agency (“FINA”) called upon all entrepreneurs to submit their applications for the government’s measures by using FINA’s on-line portal. Measures that can be applied for are:
- liquidity and working capital loans;
- delayed repayments;
- loan restructuring.
Eligible applicants are companies, sole traders and family farms whose business activities are endangered or blocked in the circumstances of the pandemic. The institutions to which the applicants’ initial requests will be forwarded are all banks licensed to operate in the Republic of Croatia, HBOR and the Croatian Agency for SMEs, Innovations and Investments (HAMAG-BICRO).
II. MEASURES TOWARDS CREDIT AND FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS
1. Use of liquidity reserves
Credit institutions may temporarily use their liquidity reserves (which serve to preserve the credit institutions in stressful situations) until 30 June 2021.
2. Mandatory reserve decrease from 12% to 9%
Mandatory reserve requirement rate is reduced from 12% to 9%.
3. Other measures
It is expected that the CNB will order credit institutions to withhold net profit.
The credit institutions should appropriately adjust all payments of variable income (bonuses, severance payments etc.)
CNB recommended increasing the transaction limit for making contactless payments without the use of PIN from 100,00 HRK to 250,00 HRK as of 6 April 2020.
III. TAX AND REPORTING
All taxpayers whose business operations are prohibited, blocked or significantly impeded, may be fully or partially exempt from paying all taxes and other public contributions due in April, May and June 2020, under certain conditions.
Businesses will need to pay the VAT once they receive payments on the invoices (cash accounting) and not immediately upon issuance of the invoice (accrual accounting).
The deadline for submission of annual financial statements for the year 2019 is postponed until 30 June 2020, the possibility to submit the statements online is introduced, while the publication fee is abolished.
The Croatian Employment Service (cro. Hrvatski zavod za zapošljavanje) subvention for the preservation of workforce in sectors affected by the coronavirus shall be increased to the amount of 4.000,00 HRK net (per employee) in April and May 2020. All employers that are using this subvention shall be relieved from the payment of the underlying social contributions.
V. FURTHER INFORMATION
Žurić i Partneri have formed a team which closely monitors government’s response to COVID-19. The goal is to provide to our clients timely and comprehensive guidance and assistance with respect to any legal and strategic issues connected to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation, as well as mitigation of the impact of the COVID-19 on businesses.