MARIGOT—A committee for economic affairs to assess damages done to businesses and to assist the business community with their administrative procedures has been set up, President of the Chamber of Commerce Jean Arnell explained recently. A help desk for this purpose has been organised at the Chamber of Commerce in Concordia.
There are five main points for assistance. The first pertains to assisting businesses with their incident submissions. The French side uses independent adjusters and they are here for both vehicles and property damages. Assistance is given in filling out the declaration.
The second regards Régime de Securité Social des Independents (RSSI), a health insurance for business managers, sole proprietors, and individual contractors. An emergency fund for all those insured has been put in place in the amount of 1,500 euros. The Chamber is helping businesses with the paperwork and sending it on to RSSI.
“On the third point, following a meeting of the banks about loans and overdrafts etc, most have indicated there will be a deferral of payments, until the end of the year for some and up to one year for others,” Arnell stated. “The Postal Bank for example has deferred all loans and payments a year out. Banks have also extended their overdraft capabilities, on a case by case basis.”
The fourth point concerns tax procedures. All procedures that were ongoing, including employment wage taxes, these will be suspended until December 31, 2017, and reassessed. “It means the quarterly payment of wage taxes are not due in the regular time frame. The same for all taxes.”
With regard to the fifth point, what to do with employees following a catastrophe, businesses are being asked not to make any decision. If a business is still operational then employees should continue working as normal. However there are other options if circumstances require. A business can put its employees in a technical unemployment status if the company is unable to produce which means the unemployment agency has to then pay those employees. A portion has to be paid by the employer as well.
Another option is “partial inactivity” where the government pays 7.74 euros per hour regardless of what the employee was earning. The employer then pays the difference.
“The challenge is that we have 13,000 public sector employees and this is a tedious process to go through for every employee,” Arnell continued. “So we are seeking some kind of bulk solution from the national government. Our suggestion is that all sectors that require this benefit would be put on an unemployment status and receive unemployment insurance. This will be re-evaluated every three months depending on whether a business can restart or not. We haven’t received an answer yet from government but hope to receive one at the end of this week.”
The Chamber of Commerce staff is available to help businesses every day from 8:00am to 2:00pm.