On 21 March, the Government approved a series of measures in response to the COVID-19 crisis, through a Normative Act amending the budget program for 2020, as follows:
- $22 million to support frontline agencies in their efforts to contain the Covid-19 outbreak, with the bulk allocated to the Ministry of Health, for medical supplies or support for medical staff.
- $100 million of Government-backed and guaranteed loans to businesses that face difficulties to pay employees’ salaries.
- $58 million as reserve fund to provide social protection in view of the COVID-19 crisis for:
- Vulnerable groups
- Small businesses
- Un-employment due to the Covid-19 outbreak
- $18 million to be allocated to the Ministry of Defense for humanitarian operations to support civil and military medical services and community services.
- $9 million as a reserve fund for the Council of Ministers for any unforeseen emergency.
Other measures, previously announced by the PM last Thursday, on 19 March, are expected to be approved in the coming days:
- Extension of the statutory reporting deadline for financial statements of 2019 to 1 June from 31 March.
- Waiver of electricity bills debts for active customers, both businesses and households, amounting to $150 million.
- Reschedule advance payments for the second semester of 2020 for small businesses.
Earlier in March, the Government announced the deferral of loan installments to 31 May 2020 for all borrowers facing financial difficulties as a result of COVID-19, subject to notifying the lenders and providing objective reasons for this extension.
The business community has made several other requests, such as postponement of tax deadlines, temporary easement of tax burden, financial support for salary costs for employees that cannot work due to the COVID-19 outbreak, following the preventive measure undertaken by the governments to suspend many business activities and limit citizens and vehicle movements, among others. While some of these requests are been considered by the Government, most of them were rejected because of budget constraints.