22 April 2020
Author: Ron van der Ploeg
MONOPOLI, Italy: Horticultural companies that have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 can now access directly the country’s Guarantee Fund for SME.
Italy is making progress on getting much-needed support out to horticultural businesses to help manage their cash flow during this incredibly difficult time.
On 17 March, 2020, the Italian government enacted the so-called Cura Italia law decree, intending to issue urgent measures to address the economic and social impact of the COVID-19 emergency.
To maximise the support available, Italy’s agriculture minister Teresa Bellanova is extending the Cura Italia guarantee scheme for SME. So that all agricultural/horticultural companies that have been negatively affected by COVID-19 will be eligible should they need finance to keep operating.
Bellanova’s Undersecretary Giuseppe L’Abbate says that government and the industry have taken an ‘important step forward’ in efforts to address the needs and demands of the agricultural community. “To date, all companies in primary production can access the Confidi Agricoli scheme. However, this scheme doesn’t operate at a national level. Existing Confidi Agricoli schemes only provide some relief in a few provinces, but we are talking about small amounts of money. In turn, the agri-food sector was using the Guarantee Fund and was granted one billion euros in 2019, a year without any health emergencies. The Fund will now also bolster support for horticultural companies which are currently not eligible for loans, repayment of liabilities and investments. This is a decisive step, in fact, that puts financial institutions in a position to support the agricultural sector in an efficient and immediate way. A result that can be achieved with direct access to the Guarantee Fund, on which the banks themselves also converge. The agriculture/horticulture sector is of vital importance to the national economy, and it needs appropriate way support,” concludes L’Abbate. He adds, “It is therefore important to proceed rapidly after the definitive conversion into law of the Cura Italia in the Chamber of Deputies, where we hope that the rule will be confirmed”.
Leonardo Capitanio, president of Italy’s National Association of Nursery Stock Exporters (ANVE) is happy with the outcome. “I have repeated it already several times, but I will do it once again. We, as ornamental horticulture sector, are fortunate that Minister Teresa Bellanova and Undersecretary Giuseppe L’Abbate represent us in the government. They listen carefully, keep the dialogue open and look for solutions. We now trust that all the national policy expressed in Parliament will make these objectives concrete, that distribution of the compensation funds will be quick and without excessive bureaucracy and that the banks will adapt to the situation to provide financing on affordable terms. We also welcome the reopening of green maintenance companies which provide some peace of mind and will allow public and private green spaces to grow.”