State measures in Serbia, adopted on the basis of a state of emergency lasting more than 50 days, have been accompanied by a high degree of controversy. The relevant decree was adopted not by the Serbian parliament, as required by Serbian constitutional law, but by the President of the Republic. The justification for such an extraordinary procedure was simple - the parliament cannot act, because in the then epidemiological situation it was not possible to allow a large number of people to meet at once.
Like other countries, Serbia has imposed strict restrictions on public and private life, such as restrictions on the assembly of persons.
In order to mitigate the economic downturn, employer contributions, for example, have been introduced. These were not provided to entities that have reduced their staff by more than 10% since the emergency was declared. The aid is paid under the condition that the beneficiary may not reduce the number of employees by more than 10% by the end of October 2020.
Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises were thus able to receive direct contributions of 3 minimum net wages (approximately EUR 258) for the period March, April and May 2020 for each full-time employee.
According to the Serbian Labor Code, employees are entitled to a wage compensation of 60% in the event of a work interruption, and the lower limit is then limited by the minimum wage.
Even under Serbian civil law, the circumstances associated with a pandemic may constitute a so-called force majeure, which, similarly to the Czech Republic, may, for example, lead to the exclusion of liability for damages of a contractual partner who could not fulfill the contract properly and on time.
The Serbian National Bank has declared a moratorium on loan and lease repayments for a period of 90 days.
The government released a financial injection into the economy in the form of an extraordinary package of loans for entrepreneurs in the total amount of approximately EUR 203 million. The purpose of the loans is to provide entrepreneurs with sufficient liquidity to pay their debts to business partners, employees and the state on an ongoing basis, as well as to provide them with operational capital. Eligible beneficiaries are sole traders and small and medium-sized enterprises. The provision of support is also conditional on the applicant not dismissing more than 10% of employees in the period between the declaration of a state of emergency and the expiry of three months from the declaration of a state of emergency.
The minimum loan amount is RSD 1,000,000 (approximately EUR 8,548) and the maximum amount depends on the legal form of the loaner, namely:
• up to RSD 10 000 000 (approximately EUR 85 470) for sole traders and micro-enterprises
• up to RSD 40 000 000 (approximately EUR 341 880) for small businesses
• up to RSD 120 000 000 (approximately EUR 1 025 641) for medium-sized enterprises.
In the tax area, there are concessions mainly in the sense of shifting the maturity of most public levies. The direct form of support is a contribution of EUR 100 for each adult.
Special coronavirus legislation also affected the judicial area, when between 15.03.2020 and 06.05.2020 all procedural deadlines, including the deadlines set by insolvency regulations were stoped.
We have prepared this paper in cooperation with our partner law firm Ljubica Tomić, Predrag Groza and Saša Sindjelić (https://tsg.rs/).