Prepared by Cristian Sgaramella, Maria Progida, Giorgio Olivari
Decree-Law No. 41/2021 (“Sostegni Decree“), published in the Official Gazette on March 22, 2021 and effective from March 23, 2021, introduced, among others, new urgent measures to support businesses and economic players, related to Covid-19 emergency.
The main new measures are:
1.the establishment of two new Funds to support, respectively:
- economic categories especially affected by Covid-19 emergency, including commercial and catering businesses running in historic towns and businesses in the wedding and private events industry;
- large companies in temporary financial distress in connection with the economic crisis related to Covid-19 epidemiological emergency;
2.the postponement by one year of the starting date of the warning duty provided for the Revenue Agency by Article 15, paragraph 7, of the Corporate Crisis and Insolvency Code referred to in Legislative Decree no. 14/2019 (“CCII“).
1. Fund for supporting economic activities especially affected by the emergency
Article 26 of the Sostegni Decree provides for the setting up, for the year 2021, of a € 200 million fund in the budget of the Ministry of the Economy and Finance, to be allocated among the Regions and the Autonomous Provinces of Trento and Bolzano, for supporting the economic categories especially affected by Covid-19 emergency, including businesses engaged in commercial or catering activities running in historic towns and businesses in the wedding and private events industry.
The allocation of the fund among the Regions and Autonomous Provinces is to be made, on the basis of the proposal submitted by the same Regions during the self-coordination process, by decree of the President of the Council of Ministers on the proposal of the Minister for the Economy and Finance, in agreement with the Permanent Conference for relations between the State, the Regions and the Autonomous Provinces of Trento and Bolzano, to be taken within 30 days of the effectiveness of the law converting the decree.
2. Fund for supporting large companies
Article 37 of Sostegni Decree, on the other hand, provides for the establishment, at the Ministry of Economic Development, of an additional fund for the year 2021 of € 200 million, through which loans will be granted for a period of five years in favour of large companies that are in temporary financial distress situation due to Covid-19 epidemiological emergency.
More precisely, the fund will work by granting support in the form of subsidised loans to large companies – excluded companies in the banking, financial and insurance fields – provided that full repayment of the exposure at maturity can be reasonably expected.
These measures will be granted within the limits and under the conditions laid down in the Temporary Framework for State aid measures to support the economy in the current Covid-19 emergency, as set out in European Commission Communication C(2020) 1863 final of 19 March 2020, as amended.
The beneficiaries of the Fund are therefore exclusively:
1.large enterprises, i.e. enterprises with:
- a number of employees equal to or more than 250;
- revenues higher than € 50 million or a balance sheet higher than € 43 million (in accordance with Community Recommendation 2003/361/EC and the implementing decree of the Ministry of Productive Activities of 18 April 2005);
2.in temporary financial distress situation, namely:
- that have expected cash flows inadequate to duly comply with their obligations;
- or,that are in a state of ” difficulty ” as defined in Article 2(18) of Regulation (EU) No 651/2014, but have perspectives of restoring their business
In any case, companies that were already in ” difficulty “, as defined in Article 2 of Regulation (EU) No 651/2014, on 31 December 2019 are not eligible.
The Fund may also support companies under “amministrazione straordinaria” (as referred to in Legislative Decree No 270/1999 and Legislative Decree No 347/2003), provided that the relevant loans are aimed to:
- the current business ongoing;
- the re-start and completion of plants, buildings and industrial equipment;
- other actions listed in the submitted plan.
In such a case, it is provided that the credits accrued and related to the issued loans are paid back, within the framework of the procedure, in pre-emption, pursuant to Article 111(1)(1) of the Bankruptcy Law.
The criteria, terms and conditions for access to the measure are to be fixed by a decree of the Minister for Economic Development, to be approved in agreement with the Minister for the Economy and Finance within 30 days of the effectiveness of the law converting Sostegni Decree.
The management of the fund may be outsourced to in-house entities, based on a specific agreement with the Ministry of Economic Development.
However, the effective operation of the Fund is subject to the authorisation of the European Commission pursuant to Article 108(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
3. Postponement until 2023 of the warning duty on overdue and unpaid VAT debt
Article 5(14) of Sostegni Decree introduced a one-year postponement of the warning duty of the Revenue Agency under Article 15(7) of the CCII.
As a result of this provision, the tax creditor’s reporting duty will start with the periodic VAT return relating to the first quarter of the second tax year following the effectiveness of the CCII (currently scheduled on September 1, 2021), rather than the following tax year.
More precisely, the ‘external’ warning duty under CCII for the Revenue Agency will take effect from 2023, while the following remains unchanged for the time being:
- the effectiveness on September 1, 2021 of CCII;
- the warning duties provided for by Article 15 of CCII for the other qualified public creditors (INPS and the Recovery Agency), which will already start from September 2021.
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