Expanded loan scheme, new tourism grants as JobKeeper end nears

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) struggling due to COVID-19 can borrow up to $5 million under an expanded Federal Government loan scheme.

Under the SME Recovery Scheme, the Federal Government’s is expected to help lend $40 billion to help businesses get through COVID-19.

The scheme, which has already seen $3b distributed via 35,000 loans, is targeted at businesses currently relying on JobKeeper payments, which are set to end 28 March 2021.

As of April 1, eligible loans under the program will increase from $1m to $5m.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says the loans formed part of the government’s $1.2b economic response to COVID-19.

“The expansion and extension of the loans will back businesses that back themselves and will help businesses who continue to do it tough build a bridge to the other side of the crisis and keep their staff employed,” he says.

The government will also increase its guarantee from the current 50/50 split between government and banks to an 80/20 split.

Businesses will be able to refinance their existing loans through the scheme, which will allow them to access the more concessional interest rates that will be available.

More than 350,000 current JobKeeper recipients are expected to be eligible for the expanded scheme, available until December 31 2021.

Businesses can also access a repayment holiday of up to 24 months.

For more visit Treasury’s website.


Tourism incentives

The Federal Government will also roll out half-price domestic airfares and financial support for the aviation industry as part of its national recovery plan.

Discounts on flights to the Gold Coast, Cairns, the Whitsundays and Mackay region, the Sunshine Coast, Lasseter and Alice Springs, Launceston, Devonport and Burnie, Broome, Avalon, Merimbula, and Kangaroo Island will be available from April 1.

The government is also providing support to major international carrier airlines to maintain more than 8,000 core aviation jobs.

Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack says the measures would boost interstate tourism and aviation in key regions significantly impacted by a loss of tourists.

“We’re working with airlines to increase the number of flights to these tourism areas – giving travellers the flexibility needed when organising dream holidays to destinations such as Tropical North Queensland and Kangaroo Island,” he says.

“In a big win for local communities, especially in regional Australia, we will continue to financially support flights which are so key to health services, employment opportunities and social activities.

“We’re also backing the workforces of our international airlines and the teams and infrastructure they need so that when tourism takes off again and our borders reopen, our airlines are ready to go.”

For more on support for aviation visit the Department of Infrastructure website and for tourism support visit Austrade.




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