Business association claims half of companies having received state loans will have difficulty repaying

Companies will have to start paying back the money they received during the pandemic in three weeks' time

2 min
The president of Pimec, Antoni Cañete.

Employers' association Pimec claims 48% of the almost 150,000 Catalan companies that obtained a state-secured loan during the beginning of the pandemic will have problems to return the money. This is extracted from a survey of 417 companies, with the results of which the employer has asked for debts repayments to be postponed or cancelled, either fully or partially, in order to avoid "consequences that would be much worse," as explained Pere Cots, Pimec's director of strategic consulting.

As of today, companies have until June 30 to obtain a period of grace for the repayment of loans, and until June 30, 2023 to get the bank to accept a parcial or complete write-off. Now, if the affected companies have not asked the bank to do so, the repayment of the loans starts when two years have passed since they received the money. In three weeks' time, therefore, companies will have to start repaying the loans unless they have requested a new repayment schedule from their bank.

The payment deadlines have also been prolonged. But in three weeks the loans have to start being repaid if the company in question has not made any requests, and now Pimec would like a new repayment schedule that would take this pressure off many companies, which find themselves unable to pay the money back.

The survey results also show that, out of the 48% of companies having these difficulties, a vast majority (83%) would be able to repay over the next five years if a period of grace were given. "All SMEs want to repay the loans, but the situation makes it impossible," said Cots, who mentioned the rising prices of raw materials as an additional complication for many companies' battered revenues.

The number of companies that find it difficult to repay their state-secured loans coincides with the number of companies that lost money over 2020 and 2021. These losses have been aggravated by two factors: Spain is last among European Union countries in granting direct aid to the sectors most affected by covid-19 (most aid has been given indirectly) and by the added obstacle of the crisis having extended "far beyond expectations". Unlike countries such as France, Spain has not yet recovered its pre-pandemic gross domestic product (GDP). "If you have insufficient direct aid and the dip extends in time, everything is more difficult".