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Greek Gov’t Measures to Support Economy against Coronavirus Foe

March 13, 2020
ANA

ATHENS – “Coherent initiatives to mitigate the significant consequences of the spread of coronavirus on the real economy and maintain social cohesion” were announced by the ministries of Finance, Development and Investment, Labor and Social Security on Friday.

“The global community, Europe and our country are experiencing a great ordeal,” the Finance ministry said in an announcement, adding that “the Greek society is worried, and the government, along with experts, is doing its best to minimize human, social and economic costs. The ministries of Finance, Development and Investment, Labor and Social Security, with methodology and foresight, in full coherence and cooperation, are constantly taking coherent initiatives to mitigate the significant effects of the spread of coronavirus on the real economy and to maintain social cohesion.”

More specifically, the measures envisage:

1st. We are strengthening the public health system.

From the first moment, there is full support of the health system for the extraordinary expenses required, in terms of payroll costs, recruitment of new staff, ICU equipment, medicines, health care, cleaning and storage costs, transportation and sample analysis, and anything else required. Because we are in the first months of the year, the Ministry of Health makes the most of its available budget resources, and is also funded on an exceptional basis. It has already been supported by 15 million euros for the supply of necessary sanitary equipment. It is further supported by 70 million, which will be allocated for the recruitment of 2,000 healthcare professionals in Hospitals, Health Centers and EKAB. It is estimated that additional funding will exceed 200 million euros.

2nd. We have legislated work access facilities, especially for working parents with children up to 15 years.

Flexibility in working hours is provided, work from home is facilitated, special purpose leave is allowed. The State, together with employers and employees, is sharing the costs.

3rd. It is possible to suspend payments of tax and insurance liabilities for enterprises which are obliged to discontinue their business because of the spread of the coronavirus. At the same time, it is possible for the same enterprises to suspend payments of installments of partial payment of established debts, as well as payments of all debt settlements to insurance funds. There will be corresponding measures for businesses in sectors which are drastically affected by the same phenomenon.

4th. A daily monitoring mechanism has been set up based on the available information from the GLG, AADE, credit institutions, the Ministry of Labor and the private sector, in order to intervene timely, targeted and efficiently in the sectors of the economy and regions where there is a significant decline of economic activity. The results of the mechanism will be used to tailor measures in the next few days.

5th. An integrated system of support for part-time workers will be enacted as a result of the suspension of wages by businesses which have been temporarily banned. This system will include financial support, job retention, insurance entitlements, and distance-building skills. These interventions will be implemented gradually and in combination with other emergency measures, in order to support workers in an immediate and effective way.

6th. We are proceeding immediately, through legislation, to repay the state’s arrears to businesses and individuals, with the aim of increasing liquidity in the economy.

7th. Liquidity will be provided in a timely manner to businesses that have suffered a serious blow to their economic activity, in order to maintain their existing jobs.

The relevant ministries are in consultation with European institutions on the use of additional liquidity-boosting tools for these businesses, such as those that were launched in recent hours. Tools such as available European funds for working capital, flexibility in state aid rules, financial instruments and more. A key priority is to minimize the impact on existing household and business bank lending and to support sound entrepreneurship, regardless of the size of the business. Banks will normally serve citizens through their branches. However, we urge citizens to use e-banking and e-banking to fulfill their obligations to banks, tax authorities and insurance funds. Trading habits need to be adapted to new data!

8th. We claim more fiscal space. Specifically, we claim: make full use of the flexibility provided for in the exceptional circumstances of the Stability and Growth Pact, to apply this flexibility to our country with regard to this year’s primary surplus target, and expand appropriately the costs excluded from the calculation of primary surplus. Costs to support businesses, employees, citizens and health systems.”

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