March 18, 2020 / 6:19 AM / 14 days ago

Romania to approve stimulus package worth 2% of GDP -FinMin

BUCHAREST, March 18 (Reuters) - Romania’s centrist minority government aims to approve on Wednesday a package of measures worth almost 2% of gross domestic product to help counter the economic impact of coronavirus, Finance Minister Florin Citu said.

The European Union state, which has recorded 217 infections but no deaths, declared a state of emergency on Monday.

The measures to be approved range from unemployment aid and guaranteed lines of credit to postponing income tax payments by some companies for up to two months, Citu told private news television channel Digi24 late on Tuesday.

“We’re not Germany, Spain or France, but I think a 2% of GDP impact over three months for Romania is substantial, and we hope it will help companies pull through this period,” Citu added.

Banks are also working with the central bank on a mechanism to postpone loan payments for at least one to two months, he said.

On Tuesday, Romania expanded curbs to fight the outbreak, closing bars and restaurants and banning all indoor cultural, scientific, religious or sports activities. It suspended flights with Spain for two weeks from Wednesday, and extended a suspension of flights with Italy.

Ford Motor Co’s Romanian plant would send about 6,000 workers on paid leave from Thursday until April 5, a trade union leader said.

Before the pandemic Romania was grappling with swelling budget and current account deficits, while asset and rating outlooks were pressured by generous fiscal measures already approved ahead of this year’s elections. (Reporting by Luiza Ilie; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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