The federal government has provided billions of euros in taxes to avoid hardship for hoteliers, restaurateurs, retailers and other entrepreneurs who have had to close due to the lockdown or have been otherwise harmed. This corona aid has been administered by the federal states. The governments of the various states have tasked the local chambers of commerce and industry to assist them.
As with the rest of the pandemic, there was no uniform path. The Süddeutsche Zeitung therefore asked where, how, when and why the chambers of commerce were involved. According to information from the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a total of three Länder have requested assistance from the chambers of commerce. In Baden-Württemberg, therefore, they were “involved as a receiving body until autumn 2020 – within the framework of emergency aid and bridge aid I and II”. In Thuringia they acted as “plausibility check bodies”, and in Bavaria, the Munich and Upper Bavaria Chamber of Commerce and Industry from autumn 2020 – keyword: relay aid III – even served as an “approval body”.
The procedure and the costs were very different. In Bavaria, for example, the IHK received a total of 11.7 million euros for its activities at the end of September 2021. A spokesperson for the ministry stressed that the costs were “in the order of the per thousand” compared to the total amount of funding of 7.2 billion euros. In fact, it’s 0.16 percent. One of the reasons for the “low processing costs” is that the Free State has sometimes supported the Chamber of Commerce with up to 200 state employees. The costs are justified by the fact that the IHK has “taken on a completely new task in terms of type and size – in addition to and separately from its usual tasks”. The spokesperson expressly points out that the tasks performed by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry for Munich and Upper Bavaria are not comparable to those of other Länder. The Free State transferred treatment completely and not just partially like others to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as Baden-Württemberg did.
According to the state government of Stuttgart, there was an “administrative expenditure of around eleven million euros” in favor of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The reason given by a spokesperson is that dealing with the consequences of Corona presented society, the economy and politics with “unprecedented challenges”. “A huge number of requests” should have been dealt with “under enormous time pressure”. A remuneration has therefore been agreed between the State of Baden-Württemberg and the chambers, “which is deemed appropriate by both parties”. The chambers of commerce were primarily involved in the first step of this approval process and, through their screening, significantly expedited the processing of the application.
In Thuringia, the six chambers, the chambers of industry and commerce and the chambers of crafts, received compensation for their support. According to a spokesperson for the ministry, it was 55 euros per request processed and was paid from March to June 2020 as part of the Corona emergency aid. The total cost was around one million euros for nearly 20,000 applications. During the period, 300 million euros were spent on emergency aid. The Thuringian chambers took over the preliminary examination of the applications and thus discharged the Thuringian Aufbaubank as state bank.