Bulgaria’s govt to extend job retention scheme beyond July 1

Bulgaria’s government will extend beyond July 1 the scope of its wage support scheme introduced to cushion the impact of the coronavirus crisis, and more sectors will be able to benefit from it, labour minister Denitsa Sacheva said.  Under the revised version of the scheme, popularly known in the country as ‘the 60-40 measure’, companies operating in the healthcare and private education sector can also apply for support, Sacheva said in a video file published on the website of public television BNT on Monday.  The scheme will be applied until September 30 and may be extended until the end of the year, the labour minister noted.  The measure is still focused on the transportation and tourism sectors, which were heavily hit by the coronavirus crisis, she added. In April, the European Commission approved Bulgaria’s 1.5 billion ($833.6 million/766.9 million) levs job retention scheme for preserving employment in the sectors most affected by containment measures imposed over the coronavirus outbreak. Under the scheme, the government is financing 60% of the wage costs, including the employers’ social security contributions, of undertakings that would otherwise lay off staff due to the coronavirus outbreak. The measure is restricted to undertakings active in the sectors most affected by the current public health crisis, such as retail, tourism, passenger transport and culture. Last week, public radio BNR reported that the government will apply for a loan of some 500 million euro under the SURE programme, the European Commission’s instrument for supporting employment during the coronavirus crisis. If Bulgaria’s application is approved, the country will have to contribute about 210 million levs as guarantees under the SURE wage subsidy scheme.  According to the latest data released by the government’s employment agency earlier this month, the registered unemployment rate rose by 3.7 percentage points on an annual comparison basis in May. At the end of May, the number of registered unemployed people was 295,453, or 2,643 more compared to a month earlier.


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