NEWS

Government tackling Covid-19 collateral damage

EIRINI CHRYSOLORA, STAVROS PAPANTONIOU

TAGS: Coronavirus, Economy

As the impact of the new coronavirus grows, especially at the level of the economy, a series of inter-ministerial meetings have been held in recent days focusing on countermeasures to help businesses that have been hit the hardest. 

Among the measures under consideration is a suspension of the payment of value-added tax (VAT), while more relief measures are expected to follow depending on the gravity of the situation. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that “announcements will be made in the coming days on specific measures that the government will take in order to provide relief to those that are being affected by the spread of the virus.” 

According to sources, the government will also seek to help businesses affected by emergency measures taken by the state, such as the mandatory closure of shops, cinemas and theaters in areas that have experienced outbreaks.

Moreover, Finance Minister Christos Staikouras and Tourism Minister Haris Theocharis discussed proposals for a package of measures to boost the liquidity of tourism businesses with the president of the Association of Hellenic Tourism Enterprises (SETE), Yiannis Retsos, and his deputy Eftihis Vassilakis. 

The proposed measures include the suspension of payments to the state and insurance funds, reduction of insurance contributions, possible reduction of tax burdens and flexibility regarding payments to banks. The meeting was held amid mounting concerns in recent days due to the cancellation of bookings. 

Sources said that the government’s aim is to move in tandem with the European Union, and to adhere to the decisions that will be taken at the March 16 Eurogroup. 

Meanwhile, the number of coronavirus cases in Greece climbed to 46, after another 14 were confirmed on Friday. Health experts have not ruled out the possibility that the virus has already spread to different areas of the country and expect a spike of case in the coming two weeks.

Speaking to reporters, Health Ministry spokesman Sotiris Tsiodras said 11 of the 14 cases were from a group that had recently traveled to Israel and Egypt.

One of the cases was confirmed in the Athens suburb of Dafni, while the rest of the patients were in western Greece and being treated in isolation units in hospitals in Patra.

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