The Czech government is preparing to offer CZK 100 billion of aid for businesses and CZK 900 billion more in loan guarantees to help the economy withstand the impact of the coronavirus.
The combined package could be worth nearly 18% of the central European country’s economic output in 2019 — a huge amount.
“The direct assistance could be up to 100 billion crowns and loan guarantees up to 900 billion, in our estimate, which we would offer to business people, individual entrepreneurs and firms,” Babis told a televised news conference.
He also called on companies not to start firing workers, as labour offices started to report an influx of new job seekers, mainly from the tourism, hospitality, and other service sectors.
Industry Minister Karel Havlicek said the loan guarantees would also be available for self-employed individuals.
The government has started taking applications for a loan program for small and medium-sized enterprises and offered firms and individuals the option to postpone some tax payments.
The Ministry of Finance expects to raise the projected state budget deficit for this year, Minister Alena Schillerová said. A deficit of CZK 40 billion had been envisaged but that will now increase by tens of billions, the Czech News Agency reported.
The Czech Republic had 694 cases of illness from the virus and no deaths as of Friday morning.