BUSINESS

New package of up to 15 billion euros in pipeline

ELEFTHERIA KOURTALI

TAGS: Society, Economy, Business, Coronavirus

The government is drafting a new batch of measures to support workers and businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic in addition to what has already been announced and implemented. 

According to the prime minister’s chief economic adviser, Alexis Patelis, a new support package of 2-3 billion euros for employers and workers is being prepared for the two-month period from May to June.

A plan to boost corporate liquidity in the form of grants, loans and loan guarantees to the tune of 6-12 billion euros will also be announced next month.

Moreover, the government is working on an interest rate subsidy plan for loans that were being properly serviced at the end of 2019.

Patelis revealed the government’s intention after a conference call with investors last week.

He noted that the government expects GDP to shrink in the second quarter, with a significant recovery in the third quarter, but that a recession this year is certain.

Much will depend on how the crisis unfolds, but, Patelis said, the government is already working on a “day after” plan that will include temporary tax cuts to boost consumption.

Furthermore, an updated 2020 budget will be announced shortly that will include revenue losses due to the pandemic, but only part of the fiscal support package will affect it, estimated at 5 billion euros or 2 percent of GDP.

The other support measures will come from European Union support funds, which will not be added to Greece’s debt. Patelis stressed that there is 1.8 billion euros in unused European funds, while the EU provides flexibility in the use of the structural funds, which can generate an additional 2-5 billion euros.

Regarding the financing needs for this year, Patelis noted that they are very small, and said there is always the option of using the cash buffer.

As for the new quantitative easing (QE) program, he said that the European Central Bank could buy up to 15 billion euros of Greek debt, while there is optimism that Greek bonds will be accepted as a guarantee for banks.

Plans are also afoot to provide scientists, who were excluded from a recent 800-euro compensation scheme, with 600 euros through a training voucher program involving 100 hours of distance training.

The program will cost 180 million euros and will provide support to 166,000 scientists from six disciplines: lawyers, doctors, engineers/architects, economists/accountants, educators and researchers.

Meanwhile on Friday, Health Ministry representative Sotiris Tsiodras announced 74 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number to 966. The death toll rose to 28 after another two patients died, he said. The average age of those who died was 73. Sixty-six people are in intensive care, all but one intubated, Tsiodras said, adding that 52 patients have recovered. A total of 13,477 tests have been administered, he said.

 

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