New Covid Stimulus Package Adopted, More Income Support, Aid to Firms

By , 20 Dec 2020, 11:18 AM Business
New Covid Stimulus Package Adopted, More Income Support, Aid to Firms JL Flanner

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STA, 19 December 2020 - The government adopted on Saturday a new economic stimulus package. Direct income support for groups including pensioners, students and those with the lowest wages is planned along with aid for companies. Finance Minister Andrej Šircelj said the package is estimated at around EUR 550 million.

All employees with wages up to twice the minimum wage will get a one-off payment of EUR 200 from their employers that will then be refunded by the Tax Administration.

Pensioners will get EUR 130-300 depending on their pensions. Those with pensions up to EUR 714 will be eligible.

Students will get income support of EUR 150, and whose who receive child allowance will get an extra EUR 50 per child.

Farmers over 65 with income under EUR 591 will get EUR 150.

Religious workers will get a basic income of EUR 700, plus their social security contributions will be covered by the state.

Employees in hospitals and nursing homes will get a 30% increase in hourly pay, with the hike at 65% for those "working in particularly risky conditions," according to Šircelj.

The income support payments are broadly similar to measures adopted during the first wave of the epidemic.

"The social component of this package is significant, we are confident that these transfers will improve the welfare of those who need these allowances the most," he said.

For companies, special loans will be available from the state-owned SID Banka, while companies that suffered a revenue decline in excess of 70% will be eligible for aid of EUR 2,000 per employee in fixed costs.

There are also special provisions helping transport companies, rent assistance for companies, payment of rapid coronavirus tests for companies, and waiver of VAT on medical equipment needed to fight the epidemic.

One of the drafts of the legislative package included a partial suspension of the scheduled increase in the minimum wage, which takes effect on 1 January.

The proposal was met with strong resistance from trade unions, some of which started to gear up for industrial action.

Šircelj said a provision to this effect was not included in the bill. He said it is something employers and trade unions would have to agree among themselves.

According to the minister, the bill, which has not been made publicly available yet, would be sent to parliament as soon as possible.

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