April will see the reopening of retail commerce, May will see tourism and food service resume, and maybe in July indoor bars and clubs will also open their doors: This is the government’s new narrative that forms the backbone for a degree of planning as the pandemic continues to rage, reversing forecasts and sending the economy’s costs soaring.
The prime minister and the Finance Ministry on Thursday announced a further set of support measures, amounting to 2.5 billion euros, which should have been the last – but the way things are going that may not be the case: No wonder that as soon as the seventh phase of the cheap state loans program was announced, no one was able to rule out an eighth.
“There is nobody who isn’t wishing that the economy could reopen… yesterday,” ministry officials say, although they well know this is not feasible for now.
The government’s worry and the main orientation of the measures at this stage is to avert corporate shutdowns and maintain jobs until the economy starts emerging from the health crisis, whenever that will be. In the meantime the projects and programs of the Next Generation EU fund will start weighing in, boosting the economy with some €5.5 billion per the budget’s provision. The blueprint is almost completed and will be submitted to the European Commission between April 2 and 10.
In that direction, the government measures have become more targeted compared to the past, so as to cover those genuinely hurt by the pandemic and that are at risk of closing for good. This concerns the coverage of fixed corporate expenditure, haircuts on dues from the first three phases of the “Deposit To Be Returned,” with an increase from 40 to 60 tranches for their repayment too, and the extra incentive of a 15% discount for repayment in a lump sum.
The above €2.5 billion package takes the sum of state measures to €11.6 billion, against the €7.5 billion the 2021 budget had provided for, rendering the need for the timely use of EU resources even more pressing.