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ECONOMY | 21-03-2020 08:16

Government's economic package against coronavirus – the details

Government unveils host of measures to “protect production, labour and supply” during coronavirus pandemic.

The government announced on Tuesday a battery of new measures “to protect production, employment and supply” during the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak, including credit, Procrear housing mortgages, public works and unemployment insurance.

The measures were announced by Cabinet Chief Santiago Cafiero accompanied by his second-in-command Cecilia Todesca together with ministers Martín Guzmán (Economy) and Matías Kulfas (Production) following a meeting between the quartet.

Guzmán said: “We will be exempting all critically affected sectors from employer (social security) contributions,” as well as state assistance to pay salaries.

The economic wing of the government further announced initiatives to limit prices, more credits (including the return of Procrear), an expanded public works budget and boosted unemployment insurance.

Cinemas, theatres, restaurants, tourist and passenger transport companies and hotels are in the front line for assistance, with all offered a temporary exemption from the payment of employer contributions to the State.

GUARANTEES

The Productive Recovery Programme (Programa de Recuperación Productiva or REPRO) will be expanded in order to guarantee the jobs of those working in companies affected by the sanitary emergency, which will include the state paying part of their wages.

The budget allocation for capital expenditure will be increased by 40 percent, earmarking 100 billion pesos to public works related to infrastructure, education and tourism. The Housing Ministry will relaunch the Procrear Plan to facilitate the purchase or improvement of homes, thus boosting the construction sector.

Maximum prices defined on the basis of March 6 levels will be set for a period of 30 days (and renewable beyond) for a range of food and personal hygiene products, medicines and medical equipment.

Consumers will be able to learn how much to pay for each product via a list which will be made available in the next few days in the web page of Precios Claros (www.preciosclaros.gob.ar).

Violations can be denounced by ringing Defensa del Consumidor at 0800-666-1518, via email at consultas@consumidor.gob.ar or via Twitter @DNDConsumidor.

Inspection will be intensified by incorporating staff from different public offices and via agreements with municipal governments.

INDUSTRY

Industries manufacturing foods, personal hygiene articles, medicines and medical equipment and instruments will be asked to increase their production in order to meet a growing demand.

A line of soft credits amounting to some 350 billion pesos will be launched to guarantee the production and supply of food and basic items, boosting activity and financing the functioning of the economy in this cycle.

A further line of 320 billion pesos will provide working capital to companies at preferential rates over a period of 180 days at an annual interest rate of 26 percent.

Banco de la Nación Argentina will be providing 25 billion pesos in credits at differential rates for the producers of food, personal hygiene and detergents and medical inputs while a further eight billion will finance the production of technological equipment to guarantee that people can work remote from home. A total of 2.8 billion pesos will finance infrastructure in industrial parks with funds from the Productive Development Ministry, headed by Kulfas.

The Ahora 12 installment buying programme will be renewed for a period of six months. The on-line purchase of national products will be expanded with special emphasis on PYMES small and medium-sized companies. Prior authorisation will be required before exporting medical inputs and equipment which the country needs to face the pandemic.

CONICET scientific research council and the Health, Science and Technology, Production and Economy Ministries will team up to produce a programme for the development, innovation and increased production of medical equipment, kits and inputs.

Finally, the payment of export reimbursements to industrial firms will be accelerated.

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