The government’s plan for the economic repercussions of the coronavirus epidemic will focus on retaining jobs, reducing taxes and supporting businesses, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said during a televised address on Wednesday.
The price tag of state measures to shore up the economy will total 24 billion euros, the prime minister said.
The cost of new measures announced today by the PM is estimated at seven billion euros.
The tourist season will officially open on June 15.
Greek tourism will once again connect with the international market while the launch of direct flights from abroad on 1 July.
Athens is hoping that its pristine public health profile will attract international tourists and the government decided to reject proposals for the pre-departure Covid-19 tests for tourists travelling to Greece.
«The pandemic interrupted the country’s impetus at a time when it was entering a phase of growth,» Mitsotakis said, noting that the measures detailed by ministers following his announcement provided a bridge to the next phase, in order to lead to growth again in 2021.
Through a program called SYN-ERGASIA [cooperation] to help employees keep their jobs, businesses that have been hardest hit will be allowed to reduce work shifts without laying off staff in order to get back on their feet again.
Staff’s salaries and insurance payments will not change.
The program will be funded with one billion euros by the EU’s “Support to Mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency (SURE)” programme.
«I had the dilemma of whether to issue unemployment cheques or to establish measures to support employment and I chose the latter,” the PM underlined.
He also announced, however that all unemployment benefits would be extended for those currently receiving them.
In terms of taxation, VAT in mass transportation will be reduced from the current 24 percent to 13 pct, in order to allow Greeks to holiday this summer.
Additional programmes for those most financially challenged social groups will be announced at a later date.
The VAT on coffee, non-alcoholic beverages and summer theaters will also be reduced in a similar manner, while additional taxation relief measures include an extension of the 40% discount of rentals, and ‘a significant reduction’ in pre-paid tax for businesses and individuals. The premier cautioned that the tax reduction in consumables was temporary, not permanent.
To help businesses, Mitsotakis said, the «returnable advance» financial instrument to boost corporate liquidity will also be extended through May and to more businesses, with the government guaranteeing up to 80 pct of bank loans. Deadlines of loan repayments will also be extended, he said.
International flights from abroad to Greece will be allowed as of July 1.
The PM boasted that the Greek people through their perseverance in weathering the health crisis and by religiously following public health guidelines through the lockdown turned Greece into a model country.
Mitsotakis declared that continued discipline, adaptability, and solidarity will carry the country through the economic difficulties created by the pandemic and into growth in 2021.