The government has said it will expand its stimulus package to more sectors of the economy battered by the state-decreed suspension of the activity of businesses to halt the spread of the Ccoronavirus.
The announcement by government spokesman Stelios Petsas came amidst desperate pleas from a host of professions that have not been included in the government’s relief measures for businesses and their employees.
One such measure is to allow rotational work in businesses with a major drop in turnover with each employee working for half a month, an arrangement that businesses will be able to continue for six months, but there is no guarantee that employees will not be laid off thereafter.
The government is at once offering assurances that it will include as many types of businesses in the programme and underlining repeatedly that it is limited by the continuing fiscal strictures that remain from Greece’s bailout programme.
Support for businesses will be proportional to the drop in turnover.
Main opposition SYRIZA has called for bolder stimulus measures and for the government to draw on the state’s approximately 35bn euro tax buffer – which was intended as a sort of collateral to allow the country to draw money from the markets – in order to bolster the struggling National Health System which lacks staff and equipment to successfully wage the battle and the global Coronavirus pandemic.
Other opposition divs such as former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, now the leader of the small MeRa 25 parliamentary party has called on the government to use 6.5bn from the country’s primary surplus.
He said that the use of funds from the cash buffer, which derives from both national funds and an endowment from creditors, will necessarily be accompanied by a new fiscal memorandum.
Layoffs at businesses the activity of which has been suspended by government decree have been prohibited as of 1 March and unemployment benefits that expire on 31 March will be extended.
With the pandemic likely to decimate Greek tourism, which is widely viewed as the engine of the economy, the tourism ministry will launch an intensive campaign to attract foreign tourists to Greece,