Cyprus Ministers of Finance, Constantinos Petrides and Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance, Zeta Emilianidou announced on Friday an economic support package of €70 million for businesses and employees due to the extension of measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
They were addressing a press conference together with Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou, who announced the measures which will be in place in the coming two weeks to contain the pandemic but also to deal with the psychological fatigue which has spread among people.
The package includes a fourth lump sum grant for businesses of a value of €30 million and a twelfth scheme in support of employees of a value of €40 million.
The lump sum package which is to be used to subsidise loan instalments, rent or other operational costs for March includes the amount of €700 for self-employed people who do not employ others, including pensioners; €1,200 for employers who have up to one employee; €2,000 for employers with 2 employees; €3,500 for employers with 3 - 5 employees; €5,000 for employers with 6 - 9 employees, €10,000 for employers with 21 - 50 employees and €15,000 for employers with over 50 employees.
He said that March is a "crucial month" because it will be key both for the economy and the pandemic. The outcome, he added, will not just depend on government policies but also on everyone`s behaviour despite the fatigue everyone feels.
Petrides noted that the government is taking note of people`s, businesses` and employees` anguish and adjusts in a flexible and targeted manner all its policies to deal with this very difficult crisis. He further expressed his conviction that "we can deal with this crisis collectively."
He outlined all the different support packages which have been announced by the government since the pandemic`s outbreak in the island. In total so far expenditure has reached approximately €1.6 billion he said.
On her part, addressing the press conference Minister of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance Zeta Emilianidou referred to the businesses and employees who will benefit from the schemes.
She said that according to government estimates about 10,000 businesses which employ over 65,000 employees will benefit from the schemes."
It was felt necessary, in accordance with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades` instructions to prepare new schemes which will be able to support both businesses and employees, she noted.
According to Emilianidou the first scheme will benefit employers and self-employed people who work in the catering industry, including restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs and other similar businesses, as well as dance schools, gyms, conference and trade exhibitions organisers, people working in the arts, amusement parks, thematic parks, playgrounds and all activities which have to do with entertainment and recreation.
She said that that pensioners are included in this grant scheme for the first time as well as a number of business owners who had despite beginning operations after March 15, 2020 can prove that they had planned to open their business but did not manage to do so.
The scheme took into account two criteria, she explained, the drop in the turnover of a business and the number of people employed in the business.
She also said that he government hopes to be able to disburse the grants by April 9.