Russia has everything it needs to cope with the coronavirus crisis, including a “healthy economy” and vast reserves, the country’s President Vladimir Putin has said.
“All the measures to protect people’s lives and health and support the economy require additional and large resources and reserves. We have them,” the president said as he congratulated Orthodox Christians and Russian citizens celebrating Easter on Sunday. He added that the funds will be used to help those who have faced difficulties amid the pandemic.
As of Sunday, over 42,000 people in Russia have tested positive for the virus, which has already left 361 people dead. As Covid-19 started rapidly spreading across the country in March, the government enforced mandatory self-isolation regimes in most regions, including Moscow.
Last week, Putin announced additional measures to support small and medium-sized businesses hurt by the coronavirus crisis. He promised to provide companies with funds to continue paying salaries if they keep at least 90 percent of their employees. Another initiative to prevent massive layoffs involves giving firms payroll loans, which will be interest-free for the first six months. To make the loans more accessible, Putin proposed that at least 75 percent of them should be guaranteed by Vnesheconombank.
Russia’s forex and gold holdings stand at $564.9 billion, according to the latest figures released by the central bank. In the week starting April 3, the international reserves rose by $500 million – over one percent – due to positive revaluation and foreign currency sales in the domestic market.
The coronavirus pandemic and crashing oil prices have already taken a big bite of the holdings, as in the end of March they fell by almost $30 billion in one week – the biggest drop since the global financial crisis. However, they are still around 18 percent higher than at the beginning of the year, when they stood at $556 billion.
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