Russia Offers Week-Long Holiday In Social Package To Combat Coronavirus.

Russia Offers Week-Long Holiday In Social Package To Combat Coronavirus

Vladimir Putin in protective gear visits a hospital where patients with COVID-19 are being treated.

MOSCOW:

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday proposed various unconventional emergency social measures to support families and businesses amid the global coronavirus outbreak, such as a week-long holiday for workers and higher taxes on dividends.

During a televised address to the nation, Putin sought to reassure Russian citizens and markets that the government would use all of its available force to stave off economic collapse.

Russia has reported 658 cases of coronavirus, with Wednesday seeing its sharpest increase in new cases, and says nobody has died. But the economy has been hit by prolonged uncertainty over coronavirus and tumbling oil prices, which has seen the rouble fall to four-year lows.

Putin's announcement that next week, beginning on March 30, would be an extended holiday for workers, with the exception of key business like pharmacies, banks and supermarkets, was an unconventional step. Some other countries have preferred locking down cities, with people only allowed out for food and medicine.

"Russia's economy, like that of other countries, is under strong negative pressure because of the consequences of the epidemic," Putin said.

"It is now crucial to prevent the threat of the disease spreading rapidly. Therefore I declare next week a non-working week with pay."

Alongside this measure, Putin said unemployment benefits should be lifted to mirror the minimum wage, at 12,130 roubles ($153) a month, specifically mentioning the need to support young people, a group of voters he has traditionally found harder to win over at elections.

He suggested increasing child benefits by an extra 5,000 roubles a month for all children under the age of three and also proposed a six-month moratorium on tax payments for small and medium-sized businesses.

To combat capital outflows, Putin said all interest and dividend payments that leave Russia should be subject to 15% tax, up from the current level of 2%.

"If foreign partners do not accept our suggestion, then Russia will unilaterally withdraw from these agreements," he said.

Furthermore, Putin said Russia would tax interest payments on deposits of more than 1 million roubles, a measure he said should help allocate additional funds to fight the economic impact of coronavirus.

Putin did not mention how much his new measures would cost the budget, which is expected to see a 3 trillion rouble shortfall this year from the weak commodity prices only.

Russia has already tapped its rainy day fund, the National Wealth Fund (NWF), for emergency support of the rouble and some other sectors. As of March 1, the NWF held 8.2 trillion roubles, or 7.3% of the gross domestic product.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

Comments

Related news

Coronavirus: Over the age of 5 in Laredo, Texas? Cover your nose and mouth or pay a fine.

The new rule doesn't apply to people riding in their own vehicles or if they are outside for exercise and following social distancing guidelines.

Men one day, women another: To reduce coronavirus spread, Peru limits who can leave home.

In Peru, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only men will be able to leave their homes to stock up. Women can go out on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Nobody will be allowed to leave home on Sunday.

Global Coronavirus Cases Top 1 Million As Pandemic Spreads.

The number of officially reported coronavirus cases worldwide topped the one million mark on Thursday, signifying a sharp acceleration in the number of infections and deaths over the past few weeks as...

Donald Trump Announces He Tested Negative On New Coronavirus Test.

President Donald Trump announced Thursday that he has taken his second coronavirus test at the White House since the outbreak began and it was again found to be negative.

Facing pressure, British government vows 100,000 daily coronavirus tests by end of April.

The current number being conducted is about 10,000 a day.

By continuing to browse World News (UAZMI), you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and agree to the use of cookies