ECONOMY

Urgent measures mulled for firms hit by coronavirus

urgent-measures-mulled-for-firms-hit-by-coronavirus

Athens is considering the suspension of tax obligations and possibly (in case of a further deterioration) of social security contributions for enterprises that suffer losses as a result of the spread of the new coronavirus, according to a government source.

The measures, the same source adds, will apply only to firms and sectors where there are quantifiable effects, noting that the government has tools to gauge the impact of the growing epidemic on a daily basis.

The government’s priority, and also the requirement for a firm to apply for the relief measures, is that companies standing to benefit do not lay off any staff.

Concerns in the Finance Ministry are growing about the impact of the coronavirus on the Greek economy. As one competent source notes, “the scenario about limited consequences is not the baseline anymore, as it was just a few days ago. The situation appears more difficult.” That scenario provided for a slide in the growth rate of 0.1-0.3 percent this year, but the chances of this have been diminishing.

Sources say that various sectors and businesses have already addressed their concerns to Deputy Finance Minister Theodoros Skylakakis, who was authorized last Friday to monitor the domestic situation and to keep in touch with the market.

On Tuesday the ministries of Finance and Development will hold another meeting to discuss the application of immediate measures on corporations already suffering from the virus outbreak, such as tourism enterprises related to canceled carnival parades, Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis announced yesterday. He added that “we will also utilize the Development Bank to supply such instruments.”

On Wednesday there will be a Eurogroup meeting of the eurozone finance ministers via conference call, for a provisional assessment of the epidemic’s impact.

“We need to stay cool, calm and well informed,” said Finance Minister Christos Staikouras from Belgrade on Monday. In this context, he added, there are announcements on the ministry’s Taxisnet platform along with emails and text messages being sent to taxpayers, giving citizens full and up-to-date information.

Staikouras said that negative trends in the stock and bond markets are not the ministry’s key focus right now, but, rather, the impact that the new coronavirus will likely have on the main features of the Greek economy, particularly consumption, investments and exports.