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Coronavirus: Plenum to convene later Sunday after parties disagree on remaining bills

The House plenum will meet at 5pm to discuss two outstanding bills as part of a raft of measures to aid the economy in the wake of the global Covid-19 pandemic after deputies at a marathon meeting of the finance committee failed to reach a consensus on Saturday.

The two bills relate to a suspension of loan repayments for nine months and a €2bn fiscal stimulus. The repayment suspension covers businesses, self-employed persons, and individuals who had been consistent with their dues to date.

Beyond banks, the suspension includes loan management companies, insurance companies, and the land development organisation.

The second scheme involves the provision of low-interest loans worth €1.750bn to businesses and self-employed so that they can manage the fallout of the coronavirus crisis.

An additional €250m will be used to subsidise the interest rate. It also applies to individuals, self-employed, and businesses.

The bills , designed to support businesses and households are set to be voted on by the plenum on Sunday.

House President Demetris Syllouris took part in the finance committee’s teleconference on Saturday, which did not finish until late in the evening.

According to CNA, the postponement of the session was decided as the parliamentary parties, due to disagreements, want the plenum to meet in its fullest capacity.

Reportedly, ruling Disy is in favour of the bills, socialist Edek, far-right Elam and independent Anna Theologou are against both bills, while main opposition left-wing Akel and centre-right Diko plus the Greens are expected to submit their positions to Syllouris by Sunday morning.

Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides and Central Bank Governor Constantinos Herodotou also took part in the teleconference and warned deputies to vote as soon as possible due to the imminent financial risks to the economy if they did not.

During the session, some of the parties tabled various amendments.

Parliament on Friday approved a raft of other bills aimed at shoring up the economy to withstand the fallout from the coronavirus crisis including a supplementary budget of around €370m aimed at supporting workers, vulnerable groups, and businesses affected by the crisis.

They also included €182m for a scheme to subsidise the wages of some 220,000 private sector workers if businesses fully or partially suspend their operations.

There are also funds to subsidise leave for parents who have to take care of their children, for students who remain abroad, and €100m for the health sector.

The government package is worth around €813m or 3.8 per cent of GDP.

Parliament also approved tax breaks for businesses.

It also approved a ban on evictions until May 31, as well as €150 spot fine for people flouting the health minister’s quarantine orders.



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