COVID-19 Update #48: Serbia/Montenegro/Bosnia and Herzegovina

There are no changes in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro compared to our update published on 7 May

 

Changes to the yesterday report are marked.

Serbia

  • 9848 registered cases.
  • State of emergency lifted.
Health measures
  • Self-isolation at home or quarantine for 14 days for those who enter the country, except for:
    • crew members in international road, rail, water and air transport;
    • Serbian or foreign agricultural workers and owners of agricultural land across the border, subject to proof of land ownership or confirmation of the owner that the person crossing the border works on the land;
    • Serbian cross-border and foreigners with a valid work permit employed in Serbia, subject to the obligation to present at the border crossing proof of work engagement;
    • Persons on humanitarian aid visits, invited by or granted a special permit by the Serbian authorities.
  • Self-isolation at home for a period of 14 days for health professionals, prison guards, officials of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and military personnel, after entering the country or exposure to COVID-19 positive persons but show no symptoms.
  • Self-isolation at home can be suspended before its expiry to those going abroad, if they show no symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Self-isolation at home for 14 days for cured patients.
Movement of people
  • Total closure of borders, except for road transport crews, foreigners who own agricultural land in Serbia and those with a valid work permit employed in Serbia and other persons with special permit.
  • Foreign crew transiting Serbia by inland waterways cannot be replaced within Serbia; 14 days of self-isolation at home or quarantine upon disembarking for Serbian crew members.
  • Ban on gatherings of more than 50 people (indoors and outdoors). Public gatherings must be notified to the police 5 days in advance.
  • Movement of asylum seekers and irregular migrants housed in asylum centers and reception centers in Serbia is temporarily restricted, and an increased surveillance and security of these facilities established. These categories of people will be allowed to leave the facilities on an exceptions only basis and for a limited period of time (e.g. visit to a doctor), with a special permission of the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration of the Republic of Serbia. Access to asylum centers is restricted.
  • Employees in healthcare and social security sectors and members of police force who are on sick leave because of COVID-19 infection contracted as a result of work-related exposure are entitled to salary in lieu equal to 100% of their salary (as opposed to 65% when illness is work unrelated).
Transport and international traffic
  • Public transport in Belgrade reopens on 8 May.
  • Intercity bus operators under the obligation to ensure at least 25% of the registered schedule, until 1 September.
  • Serbian Chamber of Commerce will merge the procedures for adjustment of schedules in intercity transport of passengers for 2020 and 2021.
  • The audit of individual licences for international cargo transport for 2020 that was due in April will be done simultaneously with the June audit.
  • CEMT certificates on the capacity of cargo vehicles and trailers for road transport, issued for the purpose of  using the CEMT multilateral quota in the current year, which expired or will have expired between 12 March 2020 and 29 June 2020 shall be deemed to be valid until 30 June 2020. The efficiency of CEMT multilateral quotas will not be assessed during the state of emergency.
  • All border crossings (road, river and rail) closed from 8 a.m. 20 March 2020, except for road transport crews and other persons with special permit.
  • Controlled reopening of airports for commercial flights announced to begin between 15 and 18 May 2020. The airports are currently open for:
    • Cargo and mail transport;
    • Search and rescue;
    • Humanitarian flights;
    • Emergency medical transport;
    • Technical landing and positioning of Serbian aircrafts;
    • Emergency landing of aircrafts;
    • State aircrafts and special purpose flights.
  • Air carriers will be obliged to obtain approval of the Civil Aviation Directorate the Republic of Serbia (CAD) and the Ministry for Transport for each flight, and submit to CAD, inter alia, an affidavit attesting that passengers on board tested negative on COVID-19.
Courts, notaries, bailiffs
  • Procedural deadlines in judicial proceedings that were suspended for the duration of the state of emergency resume as of today.
  • Preclusive procedural deadlines in administrative proceedings that start running from the service of process or a receipt of particular procedural notice will, if the process was served or notice received during the state of emergency, start running on 21 May 2020.
  • Precautionary procedural deadlines for the taking of an administrative act, termination of administrative proceedings or decision-making upon procedural remedies, will be considered expired on 6 June 2020.
  • Court hearings adjourned, except in cases requiring urgent action until 11 May 2020.
  • Recommendation to bailiffs to suspend debt collection and other enforcement actions.
  • Certification of signatures, manuscripts and transcripts before notaries, as well as hearings in non-contentious cases suspended, except in particularly urgent and justified cases.
Universities/schools/kinder-gardens
  • Schools closed until the end of school year, except for the end of the year grading and high school entrance exams.
  • Reopening of kinder-gardens and daily care centres in schools on 11 May 2020.
  • Universities are allowed to organize lectures and exams from 15 May 2020 provided they follow all prescribed protective measures.
Work place
  • Draft decree imposing significant OHS measures on employers published.
  • Recommendation to employers to compensate full salary and not just 65% to employees who are on sick leave because of COVID-19 infection contracted as a result of work-related exposure.
  • Recommendation to employers to allow employees whose work at workplace is required during the state of emergency to use the remainder of their 2019 annual leave by 31 December 2020 (statutory cut-off date in normal circumstances is 30 June 2020).
  • Recommendation to employers to allow employees exhaust annual leave before sending them to forced leave of absence.
  • Employers who employ persons who did not have the status of employees in the course of 2019 until 6 July 2020 will qualify for tax incentives even though the original deadline for such qualifying new employment expires on 30 April 2020 (see our earlier newsletter on the topic).
Trade and hospitality
  • Shopping malls reopen on 8 May 2020
  • Price control imposed for essential basic foodstuffs, protective equipment and disinfectants until 18 May 2020. Prices can only be raised within the limits of the annual inflation rate.
  • Limitation on purchases of protective equipment (10 masks/protective gloves per person) and disinfectants (2 large packs/5 small packs per person).
  • Exemption on payment of custom duties for ethyl-alcohol ›80%.
Financial measures

Fiscal incentives (see our separate newsletter)

  • Deferral of payroll tax and social security contributions for March, April and May 2020, or April, May and June 2020; repayment in 24 instalments starting on 4 January 2021.
  • Deferral of 2020 corporate income tax advance instalments due in March, April and May 2020 until the final deadline for submission of 2020 CIT return. Companies whose fiscal year does not correspond to calendar year may defer their obligation to pay 2020 CIT advances due on 15 April, 15 May and 15 June, respectively, until the deadline for submission of final CIT return for the relevant tax period. Deferred tax obligation is payable from the end date of the deferral period, in not more than 24 instalments. No interest on the tax obligation accrues during the deferral and repayment periods.
  • VAT relief on donations during COVID-19 crisis.

Direct financial aid (see our separate newsletter)

  • Three net statutory March 2020 minimal wages per each full-time employee (and proportionally for each part-time employee) to entrepreneurs and SMEs, payable over a period of three months. First instalment announced for 7 May 2020.
  • Three times 50% statutory March 2020 net minimal wage to large companies per each full-time employee (and proportionally for each part-time employee) sent on forced paid leave in the period March-May 2020), payable over a period of three months. First instalment announced for 7 May 2020.
  • Direct aid can be used only in conjunction with fiscal aid.

Conditions for fiscal and direct aids

  • Commercial entity qualifies for the aid if it has not reduced the employee headcount in the period from 15 March 2020 until 10 April 2020 for more than 10%. Furthermore, the entities which avail themselves of the aid measures but then reduce their employee headcount in the period from 15 March 2020 until the end of October 2020 for more than 10% stop qualifying for the aid and must repay all received aid, with default interest. Fixed-term employees whose contracts expire during the relevant period do not count towards the 10% threshold.
  • Commercial entity that applies for fiscal and direct aid may not pay out dividends to its shareholders in the course of 2020, except in the form of shares.

Payment moratoriums

  • Three-month moratorium on debt to banks and financial leasing companies.
  • Moratorium on loans granted by the Republic Development Fund until 30 September 2020.
  • Interest-free three-month moratorium on payment of utility bills for retirees. Interest will not be calculated and a 5% discount will be granted to all Serbian citizens who pay their electricity bills for March, April and May by 30 June 2020.
  • Interest on tax debt reduced to benchmark interest rate of the National Bank of Serbia (normally, the interest rate is equal to NBS‘ benchmark rate plus 10 percentage points).

Measures for maintenance of liquidity

  • Easier rules for issuance of corporate ‘Corona bonds’ (see our separate newsletter).
  • National Bank of Serbia reduced benchmark reference rate to 1.5%.
  • During the state of emergency, the Deposit Insurance Agency may invest foreign exchange assets it manages into securities issued by the Republic of Serbia without limitation (normally, it cannot invest more than 1/4 of its assets into the state paper).
  • State guarantees to banks for loans to entrepreneurs, SMEs and agricultural households (see our separate newsletter).
  • Subsidized loans and direct aid to agricultural households.

Subsidized working capital loans

  • The Government of Serbia ear-marked RSD 24 billion for subsidized working capital loans to be disbursed via the Development Fund of the Republic of Serbia to entrepreneurs, SMES, registered agricultural households and registered cooperatives, in each case provided they have financial statements for at least two fiscal years (except for entrepreneurs that do not prepare financial statements) and are solvent and not under financial reorganization measures. Loans will be repayable in 24 monthly instalments, after 12-month grace period. Annual interest rate is 1%. Maximum loan amount per SME borrower is RSD 1 million (RSD 200,000 for entrepreneurs and agri-cooperatives). Maximum loan amount per group of related borrowers is RSD 10 million for entrepreneurs and micro companies, RSD 40 million for small enterprises and RSD 120 million for medium enterprises. The condition is that the borrower has not reduced the number of employees since 16 March 2020 until the application for the loan and during the entire loan repayment period for more than 10%. Loans in the amount of RSD 25 million must be secured with pledge or mortgage. Loan applications can be made until the earlier of 10 December 2020 and distribution of all available funds ear-marked for this programme.
  • Commercial entity qualifies for subsidized loan if it has not reduced the employee headcount in the period from 15 March 2020 until the expiry of three months from the loan disbursement for more than 10%. Fixed-term employees whose contracts expire during the relevant period do not count towards the 10% threshold.
  • Commercial entity that applies for a subsidized loan is not allowed to pay out dividends to its shareholders in the course of 2020, except in the form of shares.

Other direct aid measures

  • EUR 100 direct aid to each adult citizen with permanent residence in Republic of Serbia as of 25 April 2020. Retirees and social aid beneficiaries receive this aid automatically on 15 May 2020, while other citizens have to apply for the money via call centre or e-mail of the Treasury Department in the period from 15 May until 5 June 2020.
  • Direct aid package to be extended to include three monthly instalments of RSD 30,000 each to be paid to independent artists via local self-governments. Details still to be hammered out.
  • One-off aid in the amount of RSD 4,000 (cca. EUR 34) to retirees.
  • 10 % salary increase for healthcare sector starting from 1 April 2020.
  • National Bank of Serbia issued a recommendation to voluntary pension funds to refrain from dismissing members who are temporarily late with payment of contributions.
Corporate law, reporting and professional licenses
  • Deadlines extended for:
    • Regular shareholders’ assembly meeting – until the expiry of 90 days from the end of the state of emergency (5 August 2020);
    • Filling of the annual audited financial statements for joint-stock companies and investment funds until the expiry of 60 days from the end of the state of emergency (6 July 2020).
    • Filing of financial statements for other entities:
      • 90 days from the end of the state of emergency (5 August 2020) for annual financial statements;
      • 120 days as from the end of the state of emergency (4 September 2020) -for consolidated financial statements;
      • 30 days from the end of the state of emergency (6 June 2020) for extraordinary financial statements (e.g. in case of liquidation or status change).
    • Tax returns:
      • when financial year corresponds to calendar year – until the expiry of 90 days from the end of the state of emergency (5 August 2020);
      • when financial year is different from calendar year – until the expiry of 120 days from the end of the state of emergency (4 September 2020);
      • for entrepreneurs who keep books – until the expiry of 90 days from the end of the state of emergency (5 August 2020).
    • Licences of certified auditors which expire during the state of emergency will remain valid until the expiry of 30 days from end of the state of emergency (6 June 2020);
    • Licences of real estate evaluators which expire during the state of emergency and within the period of 30 days from the end of the state of emergency will remain valid until the expiry of 60 days from the end of the state of emergency (6 July 2020).
Other measures
  • All identity documents of Serbian citizens (ID cards, passports, driver’s licenses, vehicle permits and weapon certificates) which expired during the state of emergency will be considered valid if the renewal requests are made by 6 June 2020. Registration stickers for registered vehicles will be issued exclusively at technical inspection outlets, until 1 July 2020.
  • Foreign citizens whose legal status in Serbia expired during the state of emergency can submit request for the approval/renewal of the status (e.g. temporary residence permit) until 6 June 2020 and will be considered to legally reside in Serbia until the decision based on the request is rendered
  • The Serbian Business Registers Agency reopens for direct contract with clients on 11 May 2020.
  • Elections scheduled for 21 June but election campaign activities still suspended, most likely until 11 May 2020.
  • Travel agencies will provide replacement of cancelled travel arrangements paid before 15 March until by the end of 2021 or refund by 15 January 2022.

 


Note: Dear readers, you will appreciate that the governmental measures we report on are not always clear and straightforward. We give our best to interpret them properly. However, this CORONA-19 Update is not a legal advice and we do not undertake any responsibility to the readers for accurateness of information and interpretations reported here.

For more detailed information and advice, you can contact us at covid-19@bdkadvokati.com

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