Measures announced for relieving lockdown pressure on workers, households

Measures announced for relieving lockdown pressure on workers, households

Finance Minister Christos Staikouras presented a 3.3-billion-euro package of measures on Thursday, aimed at relieving workers and households from the pressure of a second lockdown, announced earlier in the day by the prime minister.

Saying that Greece has cash reserves of 37.5 billion euros – half of which was amassed over the past year – Staikouras said that the support package has been “extended and expanded” to bolster the job market and households, but also to safeguard “social cohesion.”

According to the new measures, employees whose contracts are suspended by firms shut down under the new restrictions – and listed in the catalogue of businesses entitled to compensation issued in April for the spring lockdown – will receive a monthly stipend of 800 euros.

The closed businesses will have the option of suspending value-added tax payments for November or pay their dues in 12 installments with zero interest. They will also have the option to temporarily freeze the November installment for arrears in taxes and social security contributions. Employees whose contracts are suspended are being granted the same privilege.

Banks, meanwhile, have stepped up by accepting the suspension of all loan installments for the month of the lockdown, Staikouras said.

Unemployment benefits expiring in November and December have been extended for an additional two months, the finance minister added, while 130,000 long-term unemployed people will receive a one-off stipend of 400 euros.

As in the spring lockdown, businesses that have been shuttered and private tenants whose employment contracts have been suspended are entitled to a reduction in rent of 40%.

The list of businesses that stand to benefit from the Deposit To Be Returned scheme – a collateral fund for small and medium-sized enterprises – has also been expanded. The cost of the fourth round of the scheme, which was first introduced during the spring lockdown, is estimated at 1 billion euros and of the fifth at 700 million euros.

The measures also include a plan for extending the payment of checks.

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