Brno City Assembly Approves CZK 26 Million Rescue Package For Local Business and Cultural Enterprises

At a meeting on Tuesday, members of Brno City Assembly approved a wide range of measures in response to the coronavirus outbreak and related economic crisis, based on proposals approved by the city council last week. Here we review some of the measures agreed. Photo: M. Schmerková, MMB.

Brno, Apr 25 (BD) – On Tuesday, Brno City Assembly approved the first package of municipal measures to assist some key fields that have been negatively impacted by the state of emergency. CZK 25 million of new financial support will be made available, plus other previously approved subsidies will now be able to be repurposed to cover costs and losses related to the lockdown. The meeting took place in accordance with social distancing guidelines, with assembly members seated far apart and the public and media observing proceedings from the Knight’s Hall. 

Brno Mayor Markéta Vaňková (ODS) welcomed the approved measures: “Unfortunately, it is not within the city’s economic power to provide support for all entities affected in any way by the current situation. We believe that help must be provided primarily by the state. However, we have been able to identify the first areas that we can provide systematic help.”

One measure is the allocation of up to CZK 5 million to a subsidy programme for cultural enterprises which have seen their finances affected by the state of emergency. As Deputy Mayor Tomas Koláčný (Piráti) explained: “For several weeks now, the cultural scene has been critically paralyzed not only in Brno but also throughout the country due to the ban on social events, and to prevent it from disappearing, we need to help it bridge this emergency period.” According to Marek Fišer (Piráti), Council Member for Culture: “This is an assistance programme especially for entities whose costs are not covered by subsidy programmes announced by the government and ministries, and which are demonstrably provable as emergency costs incurred by applicants during the suspension of their operation.” The subsidies will be granted between CZK 20,000 and 50,000, and the period covered is from January 1st to September 30th, 2020. They are designed to provide emergency assistance, rather than to replace existing subsidies, and will be as administratively simple as possible, both for applicants and the municipality. “Proposals for further measures to support larger cultural entities not yet covered by state support are being prepared by the Brno Department of Culture. They will subsequently be submitted for discussion in the self-governing bodies of the city,” added Fišer. Instructions for how to apply for a grant can be found here.

Brno Mayor Marketa Vaňková (ODS) welcomed the approved measures. Photo
Brno Mayor Markéta Vaňková welcomed the approved measures. Photo credit: M. Schmerková, MMB.

To protect the city’s thriving outdoor cafe culture, the City Council will ask City District authorities to waive fees for cafes, restaurants and pubs which open outside gardens this summer. Brno City Council will fully compensate the districts for the waived fees, at a cost of CZK 6 million. Rental payments will also be waived or reduced on non-residential properties, buildings, and other land owned by the City of Brno that haven’t been transferred to City Districts, from March 12th until the point that the tenant’s activities are no longer restricted by the emergency measures. The funds allocated for this initiative total CZK 12 million.

The assembly approved a further CZK 6 million package of subsidies for specific projects to organizations working in the fields of social care, health services, violence prevention, family support and active ageing. 117 projects were selected for subsidies by a commission, from over 150 applications.

Those receiving subsidies from the city budget for specific projects will from now be allowed to use this money for other purposes, such as covering operational costs and mitigating losses caused by the anti-coronavirus measures. In some cases, this can be achieved by a simple amendment to the contract, but according to Deputy Mayor Tomáš Koláčný (Piráti): “If this assistance cannot be arranged by an amendment to the contract, we will seek individual solutions with each entity so that it can use the originally allocated money effectively.”

In another step, the Brno Regional Chamber of Commerce’s virtual platform, Kontakt-Kontrakt, which is used extensively each year during the International Engineering Fair to connect companies and organize meetings, will become a year-round platform, with a financial contribution of CZK 3 million from the City of Brno. The platform will be free to use. Koláčný explained the potential benefits of the scheme: “This will create a tool for a continuous virtual marketplace designed for all self-employed, small and medium-sized enterprises in the region, which will be further supplemented by assistance from the Brno Regional Chamber of Commerce.”

The Assembly also approved measures to help local companies wishing to enter foreign markets, in the form of a certification voucher programme. “One of the significant obstacles that Czech companies face when promoting their products on foreign markets is the need to provide a certificate from an accredited testing laboratory confirming that the product meets all the technical standards and other requirements for this type of product. With this step, we will make the process easier for them,” said Mayor Vaňková. According to Koláčný, the initiative is specifically meant to help small and medium-sized Brno firms operating in fields with high added value. 

Elsewhere in municipal developments:

  • The City of Brno has launched an English version of their website with regular updates on the epidemic situation in Brno.
  • The Assembly approved a previously-announced postponement of the payment deadline for municipal waste fees. (Read more…)
  • Oliver Pospíšil (ČSSD) was introduced as the new Secretary of the City of Brno at Tuesday’s meeting. As a result he resigned as the 3rd Deputy Mayor, and was replaced by Jiří Oliva (ČSSD).
  • Representatives approved the establishment of a new municipal trading company, Arena Brno, to manage the construction and operation of the new multifunctional sports and events hall, which will be built in the western part of the Brno Exhibition Center, behind Pavilion Z.

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