President Nicos Anastasiades will address the public on Wednesday evening to announce new measures to support the economy, as businesses made an urgent appeal for help as time was running out.
The president’s address is scheduled after a cabinet meeting at 7pm. The cabinet is expected to approve a new raft of measures to help businesses after a state-backed lending scheme was withdrawn by the government.
Businesses affected by coronavirus measures are getting desperate for state support after a scheme for state-backed borrowing was pulled by the finance minister following a two-month back and forth with opposition parties whose amendments made it unenforceable.
A meeting with the president and business leaders was held on Monday at the presidential palace.
Chairman of employers organisation OEV Giorgos Petrou warned that businesses were running out of time.
“The biggest worry we all have is liquidity. Things are getting difficult. Many businesses are suffering, and solutions must be given immediately,” he said.
Petrou said they did not discuss the government’s so-called plan B, which is widely expected to include elements of the previous scheme.
There will be direct funding to small businesses and it has been suggested that the government will subsidise the interest rates of loans secured by businesses.
Petrou stressed that only viable businesses should be assisted.
“Those that can employ people and contribute to the economy. We are against handing cash to unsustainable businesses,” Petrou said.
The head of the chamber of commerce (Keve) Marios Tsiakkis stressed the need for any process to be swift.
He too agreed that it would be wrong to give money away without checking where it was going.
“The logic of giving money knowing that the business will not be there in three months is like throwing money down a hole,” Tsiakkis said.
He said any assistance must follow the evaluation of a company.
Tsiakkis urged parliament to realise that the help was needed or else many businesses will be lost and a lot of people would be left jobless.