Portugal launches grants to help companies pay rents in 2021

FILE PHOTO: Portugal's Economy Minister Pedro Siza Vieira speaks during an interview with Reuters in Lisbon, Portugal January 31, 2020. Picture taken January 31, 2020. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante

LISBON (Reuters) - Portugal’s government approved a set of measures on Thursday to support companies with revenues by the COVID-19 pandemic, including grants to cover up to 50% of their rents in the first half of next year, the economy minister said.

The new measures meet some of the demands of employers’ associations, especially owners of retail stores, hotels and restaurants whose revenues have plummeted due to restrictions imposed by the government to fight the virus.

Economy Minister Pedro Siza Vieira said companies with a 25% to 40% drop in revenue during the first half of 2021 from a year earlier will receive aid equivalent to 30% of their monthly rent, up to a maximum of 1,200 euros per month.

If the revenue drop exceeds 40%, the grant will correspond to 50% of the monthly rent, with a cap of 2,000 euros per month, he said.

“We’re launching non-repayable grants for non-housing rents in the first half of 2021 because this is the time to renew support for companies to ensure they are able to get through these coming months”, Siza Vieira told a news conference.

He would not say how much this measure will cost the state.

The government expects the tourism-dependent economy to grow 5.4% in 2021 after this year’s projected slump of 8.5% - the worst recession in almost a century.

Siza Vieira said that while Portugal’s GDP was expected to contract by 17.3 billion euros this year, government support measures have already totaled 21 billion euros, including 7.2 billion in grants.

Reporting by Sergio Goncalves, editing by Andrei Khalip