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We are collateral damage

Compensate! Dirk Iserlohe on political misconceptions about bridging aid III

Back to School, Blackboard
Politicians should also do their homework. / Photo: deleece cook unsplash

Berlin/Cologne (February 12, 2021). The promises of the previous months have not yet been fulfilled and, above all, the money is still far from arriving in everyone's account ... And the German government is already granting the next, third bridging aid. Dirk Iserlohe, chairman of the supervisory board of Dorint Hotels & Resorts and campaigner for the industry, thinks that this is not help at all.

Even if the bridging aid III can be applied for since yesterday (www.ueberbrueckungshilfe-unternehmen.de, in German language) and a quick transfer is promised for the first time, it does not change the fact that this new state support will probably bypass the majority of the associated companies. According to the wording on its website, the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) supports companies with an annual turnover of up to 750 million euros, which have had to record turnover losses of at least 30 percent between November 2020 and June 2021, with fixed cost subsidies. Depending on the amount of the drop in turnover, 40 per cent, 60 per cent or 90 per cent of the fixed costs will be reimbursed - but a maximum of 1.5 million euros (3 million euros for affiliated companies).

Dirk Iserlohe knows that most hotel groups will not see much of this "help".

 

Mr Iserlohe, what does the bridging aid III bring to Dorint Hotels & Resorts?

First of all, a violation of Article 3 of the Basic Law. The government has decided to misuse subsidy programmes instead of paying compensation. That is why there are always limits.

For November and December respectively, we received a total of 60,000 euros, although we had submitted applications for 14.2 and 11.2 million respectively. However, I am afraid that I will have to pay back this total amount again, because the application on the basis of 75% system-immanently ends at 1 million euros per month. Since Wednesday, things have been getting exciting, because the bazooka is becoming a space bomb - especially for entrepreneurs of our size. For now, the bridging aid III has been announced. But it is limited to a maximum of 12 million.

What is still the catch?

Quite simply, it lies in this question: Why does the bridging aid III have to be credited to previous periods? It is always about the current month and the current compensation! We have January, February, and there will still be a lockdown in March and April. These are all months of restriction, there are revenue shortfalls and these have to be compensated!

The thinking error results from the construct of the subsidy programmes, which are coherent in themselves. That is why the upper limit is normally capped at one million euros. However, we do not want to claim subsidies now, but simply receive compensation for compulsory restrictions. Compensation is required under Article 12 of the Basic Law (freedom of occupation) and proportional to the size of the company under Article 3 of the Basic Law (equality) for special sacrifice carriers.

  Iserlohe Dirk
  Dirk Iserlohe: The entrepreneurs have
been tricked.
/ Photo: Honestis AG

Do you suspect tactics behind this?

Yes! We are collateral damage! One that seems manageable for politicians in a super election year. The restaurateur who goes down the drain will, in doubt, be taken over by the best employee and the world will go on. The hotelier who goes bankrupt will, in case of doubt, be taken over by the next person and the world will go on.
Apparently, one reckons with the system failure of the current entrepreneurs. Tourism contributes only 8.3% to GDP and that is not a figure that causes Berlin any headaches at all. As I said, the pubs and hotels will remain. The only thing that changes is the entrepreneur who has built and worked diligently for decades but is now allowed to sacrifice himself for the common good.

This pandemic already has many winners. Will the new federal government take a new interest in the hotel and restaurant industry after the election (in September)?

It's cute that the Finance Minister of 2022 - whoever it is - will be surprised that so much tax revenue is flowing in after all. This is probably due to the fact that, on the one hand, many sectors are making considerable extra profits. And this share is larger than the share of tourism in GDP. So from sectors such as: Hygiene, medicine, cars, pharmaceutical medicine, delivery and parcel services, logistics, finance, etc. The employees of the hospitality industry then have for the most part been re-employed. The well-behaved, suicidal middle-class entrepreneur who has disappeared does not stand out.

Will there be fewer hotels, restaurants and other catering businesses on the market?

Not necessarily, only the entrepreneurs will go bankrupt. The real estate and space will remain. There are enough entrepreneurs with capital who take the opportunity to pick up the pieces. Employees are still there. Only those entrepreneurs who work honestly are thrown out of the market. Those who are too big to get cover from the subsidy programmes, but too small to be given billions - like TUI and Lufthansa - of state money at a sensational speed.

What would be a final bailout?

Mr. Altmaier and Mr. Scholz, our Ministers of Economy and Finance, only have to implement what you announce: check and pay out fixed costs that are not covered. The EU has long since approved the compensation exemptions. The tax authorities of the individual federal states are in a position to do this.

Is this all tactics?

Yes. Everyone is already starting to gear up for the federal election. I don't expect any answers to my 42 letters to politicians - but perhaps a little respect, which an entrepreneur always deserves: that you deliver what you promise.

This tactic was prepared, I think. If I see something threatening in the sky and I put a restriction on it, I have to pay compensation. That's why the government robbed this paragraph on 18 November 2020, put everything into the new §28a IfSG (Infection Protection Act). This means it no longer has to pay compensation. We have been tricked.

Thank you for the conversation!

Interview: Maria Puetz-Willems

 

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