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Coronavirus: Cabinet approves emergency relief budget of €360m

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The cabinet on Thursday green-lit and then submitted to parliament a supplementary state budget of approximately €360m as relief for individuals and businesses impacted by measures imposed to contain the spread of coronavirus.

The associated budget bills are to be discussed Friday at the House finance committee and – depending on the consensus there – some or all could be forwarded to the plenum for a vote.

The House plenary will be held behind closed doors.

Although the direct assistance comes to about €360m, the overall stimulus package – including things like deferred VAT payments – works out to €800m.

Included in the €360m are €200m to parents who take special leave to care for their children (ages 15 and under) due to the closure of schools and kindergartens. The special leave can last for up to four weeks, and eligible for it are people employed both in the public and private sectors.

The package includes an allocation of €182m to compensate businesses which have been ordered to suspend operations due to the government’s restrictive measures. The amount is for unemployment benefit covering up to 60 per cent of insurable wages.

The same applies for businesses forced to partially suspend operations, suffering a decline in turnover of more than 25 per cent. Where a company employs up to 50 people, the unemployment benefit will apply to up 75 per cent of the staff; and to 60 per cent of the staff where there are more than 50 employees.

An estimated 220,000 people working in the private sector are potentially eligible for this unemployment benefit, covering the period March to April 12, 2020.

Beyond that, some €20m have been allocated for the self-employed.

Another €15m will go for every 20,000 persons who are entitled to special sick leave due to the Covid-19 situation. This applies to high-risk persons with underlying health issues and who are allowed to stay home, provided they furnish a medical certificate.

In addition, the package includes €100m for extra government expenditures – hiring doctors and nurses, purchasing medical equipment, and for supplying and maintaining the quarantine centres.

Moreover, €15m have been earmarked for compensating students stranded abroad and can’t return for the Easter holidays, plus €6m for repatriating Cypriots who are overseas.

Lastly, €11m on actions geared at stimulating tourism for the 2020 summer season and the 2021 winter season (October 2020 to March 2021).


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