A frozen Christmas is looming for businesses, the unemployed, salary workers, pensioners and freelancers, who are worried they might not make it through the pandemic and its consequences.
It remains unknown when the market will reopen or whether the lockdown’s end will enable enterprises to benefit from Christmas turnover – the biggest in the calendar year.
The government has designed a package of measures worth 3.3 billion euros, to be distributed across all sectors that have either been forced to shut down by state order or have been severely damaged by the pandemic. Of that amount, €3 billion concerns liquidity, while €300 million has to do with the suspension of tax obligations. That amount will be utilized by year-end, and will likely grow further as the government is expected to make new announcements concerning a Christmas handout for vulnerable groups.
From the start of the pandemic until the end of 2020, a total of €27.3 billion will have been paid out, including credit from the Entrepreneurship Fund and the Guarantee Fund. That does not include pensioners’ regular payments (salaries and pensions) and retroactive dues resulting from court decisions, amounting to €1.4 billion.
Although the funds spent are unprecedented, thousands of enterprises, freelancers and other workers are expressing fears and concern about the day after. The opening and closing of the market does not allow businesses to make any plans for the year’s final month or for next year, while workers fear for their jobs.
The Finance Ministry’s planning provides that by end-November, the Deposit To Be Returned program’s fourth phase will have disbursed €1.2 billion, half of which will actually not be returned. Next month the fifth phase will follow with €700 million, with only €350 million to be paid back.
Businesses have also begun making declarations on the Ergani database regarding contract suspensions; more than €150 million will be spent on supporting the jobless, and €30 million will go to landlords for the mandatory 40% rental reduction.