Bulgaria moves to provide liquidity support for businesses hard-hit by Covid-19 State of Emergency

Bulgaria’s government will with the Bulgarian Development Bank propose measures to provide liquidity support to businesses suffering because of the measures imposed under the State of Emergency declared to contain Covid-19 coronavirus, Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov told a briefing on March 15.

The state was ready to support additional capitalisation of the bank, Goranov said.

He said that he had discussed with Labour and Social Policy Minister Denitsa Sacheva a short-term measure, possibly lasting a month, for companies planning to dismiss employees.

Those affected by reduced consumption and supply chain disruption and which intended to lay off staff should not do so but should apply through the Employment Agency for aid in the form of 60 per cent of the remuneration of their employees.

Responding to a question, Goranov said that anyone who attempted to get such benefits fraudulently would be prosecuted.

The European Investment Bank is also expected to announce steps that would benefit Bulgarian businesses.

Goranov said that the priorities regarding big investment projects, including for military modernisation, would be subject to reassessment.

The state had financial reserves of about 10 billion leva but this should not be spent in a month or two.

Other steps being considered by Bulgaria’s government to ease the burden on business at the time of this crisis include extending the deadline for companies to submit annual financial statements, and a rebate on local taxes and fees. The deadline for companies to submit annual tax returns could also be extended to June 30. Decisions on such measures will be taken on March 16, the Finance Minister said.

Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev announced the creation of a national logistical co-ordination centre. To be headed by Fire Safety and Civil Defence chief Nikolai Nikolov, it will be empowered to make rapid decisions about the production and distribution of protective materials and equipment.

The need for protective equipment was increasing enormously, leading to the decision to set up the centre.

Earlier on March 15, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov and President Roumen Radev agreed in talks that medical professionals working on the frontline against Covid-19 should each get an additional 1000 leva (about 500 euro) a month over and above their monthly salaries.

Sacheva said that 20 million leva from the Human Resources Development operational programme would be provided to cover this, as well funding improved safe working conditions, the working environment, equipment, furniture, supplies and transport. Measures also would be put in place with deal with employee stress.

Within the next three days, an additional 20 million leva from the Human Resources Development operational programme would be made available to Bulgaria’s municipalities to boost support for people with disabilities and people under quarantine.

Transport Minister Rossen Zhelyazkov said that with regard to land transport, including given Bulgaria’s place as a key corridor between Europe, Asia and the Middle East, the smooth and free-flowing passage of goods would be ensured.

Lorries would be grouped and escorted to ensure that they transited the country in good time.

After midnight on Tuesday, no flights from Italy and Spain to Bulgaria would be allowed. An arrangement may be made with Bulgaria Air to bring Bulgarians home from these destinations after this period.

Goranov emphasised that such an arrangement would involve tickets paid by passengers and no money for it would come from taxpayers.

People arriving by air in Bulgaria from at-risk destinations would be separated for checking, Zhelyazkov said.

He said that currently, there were no plans for Bulgarian state railways BDZ to reduce the number of trains. He noted that demand was currently down.

Justice Minister Danail Kirilov said that he was proposing to suspend procedural deadlines for court proceedings, except for criminal proceedings.

All visits to prisons would be banned, he said.

Economy Minister Emil Karanikolov has met representatives of major food chains. The rush on food stores has been declining. Some shelves had been empty on Saturday, but this was because the spike in demand exceeded normal resupply schedules. These schedules are being redrafted.

Karanikolov emphasised that food retail stores had sufficient stocks in their warehouses. “Food and essential goods are available in our country,” he said.

(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)



The Sofia Globe staff

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