March 20, 2020 / 10:10 PM / 10 days ago

Latvian parliament passes two-billion-euro coronavirus relief package

RIGA (Reuters) - The Latvian Parliament voted on Friday on a financial relief package, setting aside more than 2 billion euros to mitigate the economic effects of the coronavirus outbreak.

Companies and their employees in the most affected sectors, such as tourism and culture, the catering industry and international transportation, will be able to postpone tax payments and get access to funding and employment benefits, the Finance Ministry said.

“There is already 1.1 billion euros available. And we have set aside an additional 1 billion euros in other financial instruments, too,” Latvian Finance Minister Janis Reirs told reporters.

The Finance Ministry anticipates that Latvia’s economy will contract by 2% to 5% this year because of the spread of the virus. The previous forecast was for growth of 2.2%. The country’s economy grew by 2,2% in 2019.

Latvia, which has confirmed 111 cases of the coronavirus, canceled all international flights, shipping, railway and bus traffic until mid-April and banned all public events and gatherings of over 50 people in the country.

Reporting by Gederts Gelzis; editing by Johan Ahlander and Leslie Adler

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