March 9, 2020 / 12:06 AM / 25 days ago

Australia plans $6.6 billion stimulus to combat virus impact: report

SYDNEY (Reuters) - The Australian government is planning measures worth about A$10 billion ($6.6 billion) to combat the economic impact of the coronavirus, abandoning plans for a budget surplus in the current fiscal year, the Australian newspaper said on Monday.

The paper reported, without citing sources, that Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the measures meant he would not deliver a forecast surplus of A$5 billion in the 2019/20 (July/June) year.”The details of our fiscal response are still being finalised and we will be working with the colleagues in coming days to conclude that,” Frydenberg told Sky News on Monday, without confirming the size of the planned package.

“We will be making a substantial fiscal response and the prime minister has foreshadowed that its about keeping businesses in businesses and Australians in job.”

The outbreak, which has killed more than 3,400 people worldwide, has hit confidence and consumer spending in the Australian economy, raising the risk of the country’s first recession in nearly 30 years.

The central bank and Treasury department have both estimated the coronavirus will lop 0.5 percentage points of economic growth in the first quarter.

Australia has recorded 74 cases of the coronavirus, with three people dying from the disease.

Reporting by Renju Jose in Sydney; Editing by Sam Holmes

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