LJUBLJANA (Slovenia), March 24 (SeeNews) - Slovenia's government unveiled on Tuesday the main elements of an estimated 2 billion euro ($2.16 billion) stimulus package it is drafting with the aim of supporting local businesses and individuals to weather the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
The measures for mitigating the consequences of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are focused on preserving jobs, prime minister Janez Jansa told a news conference.
The government is stepping in to co-finance until the end of May the salaries and social contributions of all workers who have been sent home, awaiting to resume work, with an option to extend this period if the current state of affairs persists, Jansa explained.
The head of the team of experts in charge of drafting the new measures, Matej Lahovnik, told the same news conference that according to initial estimates, the envisaged stimulus package is worth some 2 billion euro.
"It is probably the largest economic intervention in the Slovenian history. But the same is done by all other countries in the world who want to take quick and timely action," Lahovnik said. The news conference was streamed live on the website of state news agency STA.
According to the draft legislation that is being prepared, all employees unable to work due to force majeure caused by the coronavirus crisis such as urgent need to provide childcare will be treated as equal to the above mentioned group of workers.
In addition, workers who lose their jobs during the crisis, will automatically start receiving unemployment benefits from the first day of their redundancy, Jansa said.
Self-employed workers who are unable to do their business in the current situation will be eligible to receive up to 70% of Slovenia's minimum net monthly salary, with the government also taking over the payment of their health and pension contributions.
The measures under consideration also aim to improve the social state of retirees, especially those with lower pensions, via the payment of solidarity supplement due to the coronavirus, Jansa said.
Moreover, the government has prepared a set of measures to support the liquidity of local businesses and to provide financial support to health research projects for the fight against the coronavirus. The measures also include specific support to agriculture companies.
At the same time, the salaries of all public office holders will be reduced by 30% for the period of the crisis. All fees and remunerations of supervisory board members at state-controlled companies will be also cut by 30%.
According to Jansa, the government will be ready to discuss and adopt the legislative package, called 'corona law', on Friday.
The government has already started putting together the main elements of a second such mega stimulus package, which will be drafted once the financial estimates for it have been made, Jansa said.
On Monday, the government's Institute of Macroeconomic Analysis and Development, UMAR, said that the Slovenian economy may shrink by up to 8% this year, hit by the ongoing coronavirus crisis. However, if the present state continues for more than two months, the economy contraction could be double-digit, UMAR warned.