COVID19: Cyprus introduces €150 mln support schemes

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Cyprus on Wednesday announced a raft of new measures in a €150 mln support package for the economy to deal with effects of the pandemic with total rescue funds touching €3 bln.

Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides and Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou unveiled a series of targeted plans to support workers and businesses over the next four months.

Beneficiaries of the plans are expected to rise to 50,000.

Two plans are aimed at hotels and establishments that are directly affected by tourism or have economic activities associated with companies that are subject to a mandatory suspension of operations.

Other schemes cover the unemployed and businesses that have lost 40% of their turnover.”With these five plans, as we had promised, we continue to offer a safety net for the protection of employees,” said Emilianidou.

The monthly cost of the five plans is between €35 mln and €40 mln, but it also depends on the turnover reduction of each company that participates.

Petrides said the new plans are mainly based on a more targeted continuation of employment support measures in areas of activity that continue to be affected by the pandemic, and their implementation will be governed by a stricter framework, to prevent abuse.

He also announced cabinet’s approval of a Guarantee Agreement amounting to €38.11 mln with the European Commission, for Cyprus` participation in “SURE” mechanism, which aims to protect jobs affected by COVID-19.

The Minister argued Cyprus responded swiftly with a comprehensive and coherent three-phase Economy Support Program, the total amount of the Program including fiscal interventions was estimated at around €1.2 bln while interventions to support business liquidity exceeded €1.7 bln.

He also said government policies to support the economy of around €3 bln, consist one of the largest support programs in Europe, and the largest emergency plan Cyprus has ever witnessed.

“With the coherent Economy Support Program, the government has essentially lifted the entire burden of operation of the economy during the restrictions, and also during gradual lifting of the restrictions,” said Petrides,

He said 190,000, citizens, 26,000 businesses and 22,000 self-employed were supported by public funds, a total of €500 mln was given for income subsidy in the three phases of the Support Program.

Petrides said more prudence and responsibility in financial management was needed over the next period and stressed that state support and public finances were not unlimited.

“There’s still a big uncertainty regarding the course of the pandemic and the international economy.”

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