Corona: who foots the bill?

In most European countries governments have set up emergency programmes of one form or another to mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis. But is everything possible being done for everyone, and are the programmes effective? Commentators have their doubts.

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Jornal Económico (PT) /

Support culture and the media

The government aid programmes do not reflect the importance of certain industries for citizens, Journal Económico laments:

“Since culture is the highest expression of any shared national life, it must be preserved with the same commitment as the rest of the economy. Ironically, it is the worers in the cultural sector who have accompanied us most during this period of isolation. ... Basically it's a bit like with the media: the government and other authorities, including health authorities, depend on and trust the media to provide citizens with important information. ... But they are allowing the sector to gradually disintegrate, throwing lifebuoys of 15 million euros that can barely keep it afloat while the storm we are experiencing is hitting us with unprecedented waves.”

Falter (AT) /

A quarter of employees being left in the lurch

Austria's microenterprises feel they have been abandoned. Der Falter can understand why:

“Out of two billion euros, the Chamber of Commerce (WKO), which is handling the hardship fund for the government, has released just 121 million euros from the first phase. It is keeping silent about payments from phase II, which has been running since 20 April. It is still unclear why the WKO is processing the applications at all. ... But it's not the lobbying agency that is the biggest problem with the fund, but the paltry sums of money it is dishing out, no more than 6,000 euros for three months. And then that not even this money ends up where it is really needed. ... The turquoise green government is leaving around 490,000 one-person companies and microenterprises to their fate on stormy seas. This group employs a quarter of all individuals and generates almost a fifth of the net value added.”

Sega (BG) /

VAT cut for restaurants is pointless

The Bulgarian government has announced that VAT for restaurants and eateries will be cut from 20 to 9 percent. Sega doubts this measure will make any difference:

“If the idea is to boost consumption, it's unlikely to work. Firstly because restaurants will have a reduced capacity because of the distancing rules. ... And secondly because consumers will continue to avoid places where lots of people gather for fear of contracting the virus. The decisive factor here is not the prices but the consumers' sense of safety. ... If the idea is to provide financial support for restauarant operators it won't work either, because VAT is a consumption tax and doesn't have a direct impact on operators' profits.”

Alfa (LT) /

Pandemic particularly hard on women

Economic expert Greta Ilekytė warns on Alfa of the consequences of the lockdown for women:

“Faced with the pandemic, the financial situation of women is much worse than that of men. ... Since the beginning of March unemployment among women [in Lithuania] has increased by about one fifth, among men by 14 percent. ... But loss of income isn't the only dark side of quarantine for women. Lithuania's police have reported an increase of around 20 percent in cases of domestic violence. So in introducing measures to stimulate the economy, the state should not only take account of the needs of low-wage earners but also acknowledge that men and women need different measures to help them cope with the storm caused by the pandemic.”

SonntagsZeitung (CH) /

Not in the same boat, just in the same storm

The poor are being abandoned to their fate in the coronavirus crisis, complains the social democratic MP Tamara Funiciello in her column in the SonntagsZeitung:

“These are shameful images: Two and a half thousand people waiting for hours in a queue over a kilometre long for a sack of basic foods such as pasta, rice and oil. Last weekend. In Geneva. ... But where is the 'Poverty Task Force'? ... We're not all in the same boat - we're just in the same storm. A few of us are sitting on luxury ships that navigate the high waves effortlessly. Others, however, are huddled together on rubber boats, at risk of going under. When the weather is good it's uncomfortable on rubber boats, but you can get by. But in a storm you really see who is on which boat.”