Insider Economy New measures being drafted to counter coronavirus economic impact

New measures being drafted to counter coronavirus economic impact

New measures being drafted by the government aim to protect employees, self-employed, small and medium-sized enterprises and those whose income is affected due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Technocrats from the Finance and Labour Ministries on Monday worked feverishly to prepare relevant bills. At the same time they were evaluating the overall cost of the new state plans.

Insiders told Phileleftheros the new measures, to be reflected in the bills, are based on three principles:

—Supporting employees, self-employed and those whose income is affected by the coronavirus outbreak. A formula to be applied on the payroll of businesses is under consideration. Along with a proposal before the Finance Ministry’s technocrats providing for the state to take over, for a short period of time, the payroll of small and medium-sized enterprises for low-paid employees, that is,  for those whose salaries do not exceed €1000 monthly.  And for those whose salaries are higher, a scale will apply.   No final decisions have been taken on this issue which is expected to be clarified on Tuesday.

What is under consideration is the overall cost to the state considering  that small and medium-sized enterprises in Cyprus make up 99.9% of the total companies registered.If this measure does go ahead it will be in line with Ministry of Labour plans announced a few days ago aiming to support employees and strengthen small and medium-sized enterprises.

—Supporting small and medium-sized enterprises through state guarantees. Specifically, the state will guarantee business loans ranging between €1.5 billion and €2 billion. Substantially, the liquidity of an enterprise will increase after a government-guaranteed loan. A government source said the package of measures to boost business liquidity would be among the largest within the European Union.

—Suspending till the end of 2020 payments made to banks by households and small and medium-sized businesses affected by the coronavirus crisis. At the same time, the suspension of the express evictions bill due to the non-payment of rents is also pushed forward. This was approved by the House plenum a few weeks ago.

The new package will also include a bill suspending the dues paid by citizens which take advantage of the social security arrears scheme. It is not excluded that this measure could also be extended to the plan for settlement of tax liabilities arrears.

On Tuesday afternoon, party leaders will be informed by the Minister of Finance on the fiscal measures. And the bills are expected to be approved by Cabinet on Thursday, before they are sent to parliament.

House Speaker Demetris Syllouris has sent a letter to party leaders noting that, due to the new state of play, the plenary may have to be convened on Friday.

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