Thousands of employees and businesses are standing by in anticipation of the Finance and Labour Ministry’s new support schemes to boost employment, as the coronavirus crisis continues to buffer the economy.
The schemes which were launched with the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak ended on June 12, and the government with social partners have been locked in discussions regarding the next phase.
This is expected to be more targeted than the previous schemes, given that the majority of sectors of the economy has reopened, combined with a need to rein in public spending amid plummeting revenue and as rising public debt which is projected to hit 116.8% of GDP in 2020, from 95.5% in 2019.
Cabinet is expected to finalise and approve the latest schemes either on Tuesday or Wednesday. Efforts are understood to be underway to include as many professional groups as possible. However, the wider the scheme, the less the money expected to go to each sector, Phileleftheros reports.
It adds that pressure being exercised by employers groups have led President Nicos Anastasiades to have second thoughts and he has instructed his ministers to review the schemes.
One of the most vulnerable groups is the tourism sector and the challenge here is how to maintain employment. The hotel sector accounts for some 22,000 employees, a large number of whom have been out of work since the winter and with a very real prospect that at least some hotels will not open at all this summer.
The new scheme is expected to be in force until the end of October.
Phileleftheros notes that the state’s capability to finance generous schemes is constrained by the difficult financial climate. This means the scheme will need to be considerably more targeted with a significantly smaller number of beneficiaries.
Citing sources, Phileleftheros says the government is anticipated to support employment in hotels that will not open as well as catering establishments in coastal areas which have seen a significant slump in business.
Other sectors such as construction, retail and services are seen as having already returned normal, giving grounds for cautious optimism.