Covid-19: European Commission approves Bulgaria wage support schemes

The European Commission said on July 15 that it has approved two Bulgarian wage-support programmes under its state aid temporary framework to support the economy during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The first measure is the expanded and modified employment aid scheme, referred to usually as the “60:40” scheme, in which the government covers 60 per cent of an employee’s salary and mandatory social security and healthcare contributions, while employers cover the rest.

Introduced in March and approved by the European Commission in April, the Cabinet decided earlier this month to expand the reach of the programme and extended its duration until the end of September.

Bulgarian authorities said on July 15 that the Employment Agency would now begin accepting applications under the expanded “60:40” programme.

A second measure targeting the country’s tourism, hospitality and transportation sectors, for which the Government last month allocated 40 million leva, or about 20.5 million euro, was also approved by the Commission.

Under this scheme, companies and self-employed individuals would receive a monthly subsidy of 290 leva a month for each job preserved, starting July 1 for a period of up to six months.

The Commission said that both programmes were in line with the conditions set out in its state aid temporary framework and concluded that the measures were “necessary, appropriate and proportionate to fight the current economic crisis” caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In related news, Bulgaria has allocated 120 million leva for assisting agricultural producers affected by the pandemic, it emerged on July 15. The money would come from the EU rural development operational programme and would take the form of one-off payments.

Separately, the country’s Cabinet approved on July 15 a programme to subsidise domestic tourism, targeting medical and other front-line personnel involved in efforts to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

Under this programme, eligible applicants will receive one-off grants of 210 leva if they book a stay of at least seven nights in Bulgarian hotels. The scheme will be in place until November 30 2021.

Also on July 15, Bulgarian National Bank said that it has decided to extend the deadline for applications by loan recipients to be included in the commercial lenders’ private moratorium on loan repayments, which was put in place in April in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

The three-month extension, to September 30, will only cover existing loan recipients who have not submitted applications to be included in the moratorium program before June 22, the central bank said.


For the rest of The Sofia Globe’s continuing coverage of the Covid-19 situation in Bulgaria, please click here.

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The Sofia Globe staff

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