Anti-crisis shields. Locked restaurants must give up millions

When the government announced the first in March 2020 lockingpale fear fell on many businesses. Gastronomy became one of the first connected sectors. They had to be rescuers Financial shields of the Polish Development Fund, thanks to which entrepreneurs tried to survive the pandemic. PFR estimates that shields saved hundreds of thousands of jobs. But today, for some entrepreneurs, they become the nail of the coffin.

– More and more small and medium-sized companies are complaining that the Polish Development Fund has ordered them to help in the pandemic. In many cases – for reasons that are difficult to explain – it turned out that the support was only temporary. If they refuse the money demanded by the PFR, they can already declare bankruptcy, which alarms the Northern Chamber of Commerce.

Rescue in the form of a shield from the Polish Development Fund, inter alia, is one of the gastronomic chains of Szczecin. Their buildings are mainly located in shopping malls. During these closures, the owner of the company faced the prospect of layoffs and bankruptcy.

– My client took it shield co-financing 2.0 for the small and medium business sector. However, when the government provided PFR 2.0 funding, it predicted that the lock would continue until the end of March. It is with this in mind that he drew up these rules. But the lockout was extended, and companies could not open it until the end of May, said Michał Wojtas, a spokesman for one of the restaurant chains.

According to the tax adviser, although the entrepreneur acted rationally, he fell into a trap.

– The Polish Development Fund did not communicate openly and it was very difficult to read from the regulations that despite the fact that the funds were spent in accordance with the rules at the time of your closure, it will not be part of the money. was resolved because although the locking lasted until May, the settlement period was only until the end of March – explains Michał Wojtas.

Effect? Shield savings with subsidies 2.0 The company has to return almost 1.5 million PLN by the end of June.

– This is 80 percent. all grants. Earn year-round savings in a developing pandemic or crisis. The entrepreneur did not make any mistakes, because from the very beginning he made sure that everything was in accordance with the rules, so that no one would accuse him of unfair calculations and unjust spending. So he gets even angrier. Today is the hour inflation and widespread high prices the company can only pursue costs, break them, there is no place to make money and return it. The subsidy allowed restaurant chains to survive the pandemic, but now the return of these funds is a dream come true. – says a representative of the building chain.

Undoubtedly, there will be more companies in a situation like Szczecin’s restaurant chain. A summary of the Polish Development Fund’s financial shield program in late April shows this The total amount of subsidies to be returned to the PFR is 29.4 billion PLN.

– According to the PFR, companies that have to repay funds have not spent them as intended, on time, or in fact their situation is not as bad as it was announced, so the depreciation is lower than the entrepreneur expects. We know that there may be violations, but in all cases the guilt of the entrepreneur is not so obvious – said Hanna Mojsiuk, President of the Northern Chamber of Commerce in Szczecin.

Down Northern Chamber of Commerce There have already been several complaints from Western Pomeranian entrepreneurs who are unable to meet their PFR obligations.

– These amounts are in the range of several hundred thousand zlotys, often even more than one million. For many companies, the return of PFR support is realistic bankruptcy. Entrepreneurs survived with this money from the coronavirus, but now where should they find the money to pay for this “help”? The Polish Development Fund should know that if someone faces a financial problem during a pandemic, it will take years for these companies to recover.. Now it is difficult to imagine a company that will withdraw one million zlotys without loss. Many companies are struggling to survive, and the PFR is offering them a hopeless situation, says Hanna Mojsiuk.

Lawyer Grażyna Wódkiewicz from Wódkiewicz & Sosnowski Law Firm pays attention “shield”.

– Entrepreneurs have fallen into the trap of unclear rules. Everyone was talking about getting up and helping. Nowhere does it say that this is a loan, you have to repay it. Have we ever heard that it will be returned? Nowhere. The refund algorithm is designed so that the subsidy can always be refunded. There had to be help, and there is an economic trap, Grajyna Wódkiewicz told Interia.

The lawyer in Szczecin represents a large chain of restaurants. Its owner used the first target and, according to him, it was resolved in accordance with the aid scheme.

– It was also confusing that if the entrepreneur does not reduce the number of employees in the first place, in fact, the support will not be returned. The restorers did not open fire on the second shield, so they were sure that history would repeat itself. Suddenly we come to the details, we look at the income, the subsidy has increased it, and the subsidy must be returned. Absurd. And it is very unfair. Because this is not money that the company puts aside or makes a living from it. They spent the money on business expenses. This is to check, why should they give it back now? – The lawyer asks Wódkiewicz.

His client must also return today more than a million PLN.

Entrepreneurs tried to understand their situation in the Polish Development Fund. Unsuccessful.

– We wrote to the PFR, we described the situation like this prolonging the quarantine period is not our fault. The PFR either does not accept the correspondence or responds as a bailiff: “Everything is in accordance with the rules, you have to pay.” They were not interested in the subject at all. In January, the president of the fund himself announced that those who did not pay at all could beat the PFR, and the fund would divide it into parts. Today, the situation is such that we are beating and saying: “Regulations”. We call it an emergency. They say, “Rules.” “But it’s not our fault,” we say. And they say, “Rules.” Like playing tomatoes – says tax adviser Michał Wojtas.

Entrepreneurs have the right to seek justice in court, but most prefer to avoid it. The reasons are simple. The work will take years and the obligations must be paid. Therefore, the dream of bankruptcy is shaking many companies again.

– Entrepreneurs consider themselves very unfair. During the closure, they obediently closed themselves, hoping for help, and today they had to return it. It should be noted that entrepreneurs who do not close their business during the pandemic, try to earn money and operate normally, lose in court. So in fact it is better to rely on them and take risks than to rely on government guarantees that they will be helped. – says Grażyna Wódkiewicz, a partner of Wódkiewicz & Sosnowski.

Then what?

– I will consistently ask for a refund of this amount, and we will sue, because I will not advise the client to take a loan to repay it, – says the lawyer Wódkiewicz.

Credit is not a solution for the entrepreneur represented by Michał Wojtas.

– Banks have stated that they will no longer pay zlotys, because the company is barely reaching zero. The situation is stagnant, as the restaurant has no place to pay, and if it does not pay by June 30, it can declare bankruptcy. This is contrary to logic. The shields were supposed to help these places survive, and now they are finishing them themselves, says Michał Wojtas.

We sent a request to the Polish Development Fund to comment on the situation of entrepreneurs. We did not receive a response until the text was published.

Irmina Brachacz

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