ZAGREB, March 19 (Hina) – The Croatian parliament on Thursday adopted a package of government-sponsored bills valued at almost HRK 30 billion to help the economy affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, with 63 measures primarily aimed at preserving jobs and ensuring payment of wages.
The measures, among other things, will allow entrepreneurs and citizens affected by the novel coronavirus to defer public contribution payments such as income and profit tax and contributions on wages for a period of three months with the possibility of an extension for an additional three months. After that, payments can be made in interest-free instalments for a period of 2 years.
The state will provide local government units and the health and pension insurance institutes with interest-free loans in the amount that they have lost.
An amendment submitted by the Istrian Democratic Party (IDS), Progressive Party (PGS) and the Platform for Rijeka (RI) was adopted whereby local government units will be able to use utility charges for enterprise, healthcare, welfare, firefighting and other purposes.
Payments of tourist board membership fees payable by businesses and private accommodation lessors and tourist taxes payable by private accommodation lessors will be deferred. Tourism businesses will also be provided with aid to improve their cash flows, and payments of concession fees for camping grounds will also be deferred.
The Ministry of Transport will temporary suspend fees for permits for extraordinary transport on public roads until 1 June and will postpone a seasonal increase in motorway toll prices.
Incentives intended to preserve jobs
In an effort to save jobs the government will pay the minimum wage for all those affected by the epidemic as an incentive for all those who might lose their jobs. Subsidies for employment and self-employment are temporarily being suspended and those funds will be reallocated to keep those working in their jobs.
The measure for permanent seasonal workers will be extended by six months so they will receive at least the minimum wage and will have health and pension contributions covered.
The government will also ensure the minimum wage for all disabled persons in work.
The measures also include special “COVID-19 loans” for projects financed from EU funds in order to secure working capital for SMEs ,and all projects that were due to end in March, April or May will have their deadlines extended.
The payment of 75% of requested funding from the cohesion programme has been confirmed while the remaining 25% will be paid after an examination that funds have been spent as earmarked.