Via RT Business

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has suggested new measures to support small and medium-sized businesses by providing them with funds to continue paying salaries to employees instead of laying them off amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

During a meeting with the members of the government on Wednesday, Putin proposed adding the hardest-hit non-food companies to the list of small and medium-sized businesses. 

The president said that, starting from May 18, companies that retained at least 90 percent of their employees will receive salary funds from the state. Support will be calculated based on the total number of employees as of April 1. Each employee of such affected companies will be able to claim payment in the amount of one minimum wage (12,130 rubles, or $160). All eligible companies will be able to apply for such assistance until 1 May.

The head of state also said that at least 75 percent of the volume of loans for the payment of salaries should be secured by guarantees from Russia’s largest development institution VEB.RF, and that the measure should be expanded. 

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He also proposed providing soft loans to replenish the working capital of vital companies. “With regard to systemically important enterprises, I ask the government to finalize their list, on the basis of clear, objective criteria. It should include enterprises that are extremely important for the entire national economy,” he said. 

Among the measures announced was also a package of 200 billion rubles ($2.6 billion) from the federal government to support regional budgets.

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The president has separately suggested allocating over 23 billion rubles ($308 million) for the aviation industry, which remains one of the most affected by the global pandemic, with most passenger flights canceled and many countries’ borders closed.

According to Putin, the government needs to evaluate the effectiveness and adequacy of measures taken in response to the pandemic, and to come up with solutions.

The number of confirmed cases in Russia has jumped in recent days to over 24,000, with 198 Covid-19-related fatalities.

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