Almost 2,000 companies will be investigated over abusing funds doled out to support businesses during the coronavirus pandemic, according to reports on Wednesday.
Packages issued by the government covered businesses which saw a decrease of 25 per cent or more due to the pandemic.
However, Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou told MPs at told the House labour committee on Tuesday that many businesses which applied for the scheme saw much smaller drops in their business activities. This means they need to pay the government back for taking part in the scheme.
During the first three instalments from March 16 to June 12, it was unnecessary to submit confirmation from an accountant on the actual amount of damages incurred by the business, leading many companies to take part in the scheme.
Emilianidou told the committee they have already requested the information from 2,000 companies, which the ministry will rifle through to determine which businesses violated the terms of the scheme.
Some have already been caught out, she said, will be requested to return the funds.
“They [the funds] were not given as a present, but rather due to the cuts in their business activity,” she said.
If a business violates these terms they could be locked out of schemes from the human resources development authority and European funds. Request for foreign workers will also be denied, she added.
Emilianidou said the ministry will also submit a bill to parliament in the coming days to extend the power of the minister to give out funds for workers until March 2021.
In the coming week, the cabinet will also decide on schemes to subsidise over 75 per cent of the salary costs to hire unemployed individuals, and another scheme to subsidise 25 per cent of the cost for a small business to train staff in digital, security and health knowledge.