Croatia adopts measures to prompt economic activities over COVID-19

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ZAGREB, March 17 (Xinhua) -- The government here adopted on Tuesday 63 measures to keep the jobs and prompt economic activity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first set of measures include the postponement of paying income and profit tax, as well as contributions on wages, for three months, with a possibility of extension to three more months. The debt could be paid later without interest rates.

Finance Minister Zdravko Maric said that citizens will be allowed to defer payment of their loans for the same period of three months. The minister announced interest-free loans for municipalities, cities, and counties. The state will pay troubled companies the amount of the minimum wage so the workers are not laid off during the crisis.

"This set of measures aims to keep jobs and pay salaries, to minimize all the damage that is already visible. According to all the information we have, these measures are similar to those that are considered at the EU level," Maric said.

Regional Development and EU Funds Minister Marko Pavic announced the establishment of a new financial instrument "COVID-19 loans" for working capital for small and medium-sized enterprises.

The tourism sector that accounts for almost 20 percent of Croatia GDP is expected to be hit hard so the government decided to postpone the payment of tourist membership dues for business and private renters as well as the payment of tourist taxes for private renters. There will be grants programs to improve the liquidity of vulnerable tourism businesses.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic announced on Tuesday the suspension of the work of shopping malls, bars, and restaurants in the next few days.

"These measures are temporary and are designed to contain the accelerated spread of the epidemic, and the decisions are made on the ground of experiences of other countries," he explained.

Croatia has confirmed 69 cases of COVID-19 infection as of Tuesday, with over 10,000 people under self-isolation. Enditem

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