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Greek Gov’t submits €5bn supplementary budget to fight coronavirus

The Greek government has submitted to Parliament a supplementary budget worth 50 billion euros to finance economic support measures announced for enterprises and individuals hit by the coronavirus. The amendment envisages measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus in Greece and to deal with the negative effects of the pandemic in the country.

The supplementary budget of 5 billion euros will increase the finance ministry’s spending ceiling.

The Fiscal Council has approved the measure, which will be covered by both EU funds and borrowing. The EU has given member-states significant flexibility to offer their national healthcare systems all the funds needed to deal with the pandemic.

The government has distributed the burden of the crisis fairly, and assumed its largest portion, Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said during the session in the Palriament.

He thanked households and businesses “for taking care by and large of their obligations to the state.”

Reviewing the state of the economy in relation to the coronavirus pandemic, the Finance minister said that the primary surplus obligation to its creditors of 3.5 percent (which the Greek government has sought to reduce) “is no longer valid as of Monday last week.”

He added that the reduction of revenues because of the crisis “and the rise of expenditures for health, and the support of businesses’ liquidity, jobs, and social cohesion are exempted from the calculation of the country’s fiscal performance.”

Staikouras called on the opposition parties to provide a cost analysis for their proposals, since they complain that the measures to relieve households and businesses during the coronavirus pandemic are not enough.

The measures announced since the pandemic broke out in Greece have been assessed at 3.5 pct of GDP. “This is a much higher percentage than 2 pct of GDP, the average European ratio,” he stressed.

With regards to the cash-buffer, Staikouras said to 15.7 billion euros, while the cash reserves of the central government and agencies at the Bank of Greece and commercial banks is the 20 billion euros that existed before 2015.

These reserves rise depending on several factors including servicing Greece’s debts. The two reserves are very different in nature, Staikouras said and the government will use any means available to face the emergency as efficiently as possible.

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