The coronavirus pandemic has caused havoc in countries across the world. While citizens are struggling to see light at the end of the tunnel, nations across the world have come up with a mix of relief measures for businesses, economy, even individuals.
India, on Thursday, announced a $22.5 billion relief package that will be disbursed to low-income families to cope with the 21-day-long lockdown.
The deadly virus which originated in the Wuhan province of China has claimed over 22,192 lives in just three months and has infected almost 5 lakh people. While scientists race against time to develop a cure from the deadly COVID-19, here's a full list of how governments across the world are acting in the interest of affected businesses and citizens:
In order to support the poor amid coronavirus outbreak, the Indian government announced 'Garib Kalyan Yojana' worth Rs 1.7 lakh crore ($22.5 billion). The package includes cash transfers to farmers, MGNREGA workers, widow/pensioners, apart from boosting benefits under Jan Dhan Yojana, Ujjwala scheme and EPFO.
Dr Arun Singh, chief economist, Dun & Bradstreet India said, "Today's announcements were much required and would provide relief to almost 800 million people belonging to low-income groups, farmers and senior citizens. This would assuage them and prevent the rise of any kind of social disturbances in the time of scarcity or availability of resources". Singh added, "While it will add Rs 1.7 trillion to the government's fiscal deficit, this is likely to restore confidence among people which will, in turn, help the economy to recover once the pandemic in India is controlled".
The G-20 nations have pledged to inject $5 trillion into the global economy to alleviate the calamity caused by coronavirus across the globe. During a video conference, the G-20 nations said, "We are injecting over $5 trillion into the global economy as part of targeted fiscal policy, economic measure, and guarantee schemes to counteract the social, economic and financial impacts of the pandemic". PM Narendra Modi also joined the G20 leaders, where he emphasised on the need to put human beings at the centre of the vision of global prosperities and cooperation. He appealed to develop an adaptive, responsive and affordable human health care system. He also urged the G20 leaders to work together and help reduce economic hardships caused due to coronavirus.
US Senate, on March 25, approved a $2 trillion relief package, in order to address the rapid rise in the country's COVID-29 positive cases. With this move, every American will receive direct payment of up to $1,200 in their bank accounts, with additional payments of $500 per child. Payments for jobless workers would increase by $600 per week. US government has also allocated $127 billion for hospitals, masks, medical supplies, preparation of vaccine, and medical supplies.
The government also announced a coronavirus emergency relief package. According to it, Americans will now get three-month-paid emergency leaves if they are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The US also announced a state of emergency, allowing the Federal Government to distribute up to $50 billion in financial aid to states, cities, and territories.
Overall, the US government and Federal Bank have cumulatively announced stimulus of roughly $3.5 trillion to fight the epidemic.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's government has introduced a stimulus package worth over 750 billion euros ($810 billion) on March 25. On March 13, KfW, the German state bank, has been allowed to lend as much as 550 billion euros ($610 billion) to companies to ensure they survive the pandemic.
Germany has halted all religious services, until further notice. The Merkel government has banned all public gatherings of above 50 people. Children below 16 have been prohibited to visit hospitals, nursing homes, and rehab facilities. Besides, the German railway company, Deutsche Bahn, has restricted regional transport across the country to contain the pandemic.
The United Kingdom has sanctioned 330 billion pounds ($424 billion) to fight the coronavirus pandemic. The amount includes 12 billion pounds to help national health services. The government has also announced loan guarantee to businesses threatened by the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to this, the UK government has also announced 20 billion pounds of tax cuts, a three-month mortgage payment holiday for borrowers affected by COVID-19.
The Boris Johnson government has also waived off business rates (tax on non-domestic properties) for this financial year and the insurers have been asked to pay out to firms covered for pandemics. Simultaneously, the Bank of England said that it would set up a new lending facility for affected businesses.
French government has taken stringent measures to isolate people as much as possible. Police personnel has been deployed to check on people who are going out of their houses for non-essential purpose. Besides, on March 18, French police handed out over 4,000 fines to those who were seen out on the streets without any real purpose. For the next 15 days, France residents can only leave their houses to buy food or emergency reasons. The government has increased the fines to 135 euros from 38 euros for those who are going out of their houses without any essential reason. Additionally, French government has asked its soldiers to transport sick people to hospitals.
Meanwhile, the government has suspended rent and utility bills from small companies. It has also launched an "exceptional and massive" initiative to pay workers who have lost their jobs.
The president has guaranteed 300 billion euros ($335 billion) worth of loans to help businesses get through the crisis. France's government also announced that it will mobilise 45 billion euros ($50.22 billion) in crisis measures to help its companies stay afloat.
An amount of 200 billion euros ($220 billion) have been sanctioned by the Spanish government to fight the coronavirus epidemic. It is the largest financial aid in the country's democratic history. Of the total 200 billion euros sanctioned, 117 billion euros will be mobilised by the state, while the rest will come from private companies in Spain. The government has also promised loan guarantees of 100 billion euros for small and medium-sized businesses hit by the pandemic.
Supermarkets in Australia have introduced dedicated opening hours for elderly and disabled people to shop. Further, the doctors in Australia have said that if the coronavirus epidemic gets out of control, then they would delay elective surgeries, to extend medical services for COVID-19 infected patients.
Australia unveiled first stimulus package to shield the economy from the impact of coronavirus outbreak on March 12. The country had unveiled 17.6 billion Australian dollars ($11.4 billion) on March 12. This comes in addition to the 2.4 billion Australian dollars boost to health services. On March 19, Australia announced 100 billion Australian dollars ( S$ 83.3 billion) relief package, in which the country deferred loan repayment of small businesses to six months.
The Canadian government passed a stimulus package to bolster its economy ravaged by the epidemic. New measures announced by the Trudeau-led government raised the package to $107 billion Canadian dollars ($75 billion), up from an original $82 billion Canadian dollars. The package includes $52 billion Canadian dollars in direct support for individuals and companies. It also includes $55 billion Canadian dollars in temporary tax deferrals for households and businesses.
Almost one million Canadians filed for jobless claims last week. To support these workers and help businesses keep their employees, the Canadian government proposed legislation to establish Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). This taxable benefit would provide $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CERB would be a simpler and more accessible combination of the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit.
UAE has launched fresh initiatives under "Ghadan 21" to boost small and medium enterprises. The country has pledged $100 billion dirhams ($27.2 billion) to fight the coronavirus outbreak. This includes 5 billion dirhams of water and electricity subsidies for citizens and industries. The UAE has also curbed toll taxes till the end of 2020. Three billion dirham has been allocated to SME credit guarantee scheme. The stimulus package also includes 1 billion dirhams to establish market funds to enhance liquidity. The government has announced 20 per cent refund on rent paid by the tourism and entertainment sector.
The central bank of the United Arab Emirates also announced a $27 billion stimulus package to deal with the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The money will go towards supporting the country's banks. Regulatory limits on loans were also eased. With this, UAE's cumulative stimulus package to fight the epidemic has reached $ 61.4 billion.
UAE has also suspended the issuance of labour permits until further notice. The measure also applies to domestic workers and drivers. The country has reduced the timing of malls to contain the pandemic. Between Saturday to Wednesday, malls in Dubai will open from 12 pm to 8 pm and on Thursday and Friday, they will remain open from 12 pm to 10 pm.
Saudi Arabia unveiled a stimulus package of $32 billion to support the economic devastation due to coronavirus and has also lowered its oil prices. The amount includes a $13.3 billion package announced two weeks ago. The announcement by the kingdom includes postponing of fee payments by private sectors to the government and collection of customs duties on imports. Besides, the Saudi government has canceled value-added tax, income tax and other levies from businesses for the next three months.
Italian PM Giuseppe Conte has declared the country "red zone" area and has enforced a total lockdown in the country. All the people in the country have been asked to self-isolate themselves at home; 40,000 people have been fined until now for violating the order. Conte's government has canceled weddings, funerals and sports events and has shut down cinema halls, theatres, and museums till April 5.
The govt has announced a rescue package of up to 25 billion euros ($28 billion). The 25-billion-euro package includes - 10 billion euros allocated to support employment, 3.5 billion euros to strengthen the healthcare system and individual cash bonuses to the Italians still working during the country-wide lockdown. The package also includes loan guarantees to small and medium businesses hit by the crisis. The Italian government has also laid out measures to provide citizens financial relief. Italian families can now apply for permission to suspend their mortgage payments if business shutdowns due to coronavirus threaten their livelihoods. Additionally, parents have been entitled to claim up to 600 euros from the government to pay babysitters amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thai cabinet has approved a sum of $20.6 billion to help alleviate the impact of coronavirus. The package includes 150 billion baht of soft loans at 2 per cent interest rates. The government has also announced that it will set up a 20 billion baht fund to help firms or workers affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The government has urged the central bank to protect debtors and has decided to offer relaxed debt repayments and lower interest rates for businesses suffering due to the coronavirus outbreak. Moreover, the government has decided to exempt import duties on materials used for making face masks.
The Peoples Bank of China (PBoC) has implemented several policies to provide economic relief during the coronavirus outbreak. On February 3, the bank expanded reverse repo operations by $174 billion. It added another $71 billion on February 4. Chinese authorities also allocated 110.48 billion yuan ($15.93 billion) for coronavirus-related funding. China's central bank has launched $79 billion stimulus effort to help the country's ailing economy. The People's Bank of China cut reserve requirements for banks that will free up to $78.8 billion in funds that will aid the firms affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Indonesian government initially announced 10.3 trillion rupiahs ($727 million) rescue package to support consumer spending and tourism in the country. The announcement was then followed up by a second stimulus package of 120 trillion rupiahs ($ 8.1 billion) to further support its economy amid the COVID-19 outbreak. An amount of 22.9 trillion rupiahs has been allocated from the package to aid loan disbursement towards businesses affected by the pandemic. In addition to this, the government has given 30 per cent corporate tax discount for the next six months.
Apart from that, workers in the manufacturing sector with income below 200 million rupiahs would be exempted from paying income taxes for the upcoming six months. Finally, the Indonesian government will also allocate some funds from the rescue package on social welfare and rural development as well as on measures to boost household expenditure.
South Korea has unveiled a stimulus package of 11.7 trillion won ($9.8 billion) to protect its businesses and economy from the coronavirus mayhem. The amount of 2.3 trillion won will be allocated to medical institutions, while 3 trillion won will go towards struggling businesses and child care subsidies. Loans will be made on relaxed terms and people who have lost jobs due to the epidemic will be retained.
Japan has implemented tough measures to secure its borders. The country has banned tourist entries from China and South Korea until the end of April. The Japanese government has also announced tough penalties on the reselling of face masks. Those who are found reselling masks will either get a one-year jail term, a fine of 1 million yen ($9,031) or both.
Japan passed a rescue package of 1 trillion yen ($9.6 billion) on March 10. An allocation of $4 billion was also done to fund a number of programs including a package to boost mask production and protection of nursing homes.
In addition to this, the Bank of Japan announced a new program of 0 per cent interest loans to increase lending to businesses hurt by the epidemic.
The Malaysian cabinet has approved 20 billion Malaysian ringgit ($4.8 billion) financial stimulus to tackle the impact of coronavirus. The government led by PM Mahathir Mohamad announced that travel agencies, hotels, airlines, shopping malls will get 15 per cent discount on monthly electricity bills for six months beginning from April. Hotels will be exempted from service taxes till August.
Public transport drivers and tourist guides affected by coronavirus will be given 600 Malaysian ringgit each. Doctors, medical staff, who are involved in containment of coronavirus in Malaysia, will be given a special monthly critical allowance of 400 Malaysian ringgit from February until the end of the outbreak. Immigration and frontline workers will receive an allowance of 200 Malaysian ringgit for their services.
New Zealand has closed its borders and has banned indoor gathering of more than 100 people. Besides the government is working to improve internet speeds and cybersecurity, to promote work from home and self-isolation.
The New Zealand government has announced an amount of 12.1 billion New Zealand dollars ($7.3 billion) stimulus package to fight the pandemic. Out of the total amount, 5 billion New Zealand dollars will be allocated for wage subsidies, 2.8 billion New Zealand dollars for income support, 2.8 billion New Zealand dollars in business tax relief and an amount of 600 million New Zealand dollars has been allocated for the airline industry.
Disclaimer: This is a developing story. Information provided here will be updated accordingly.
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