The Government has adopted a plan of exceptional measures in the economic field to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 that will allow the mobilization of up to 18,225 million euros during this year. These measures are in addition to those adopted by the Council of Ministers on 10 March in the area of health and employment coverage.
In this line of collaboration with these institutions, the Government is tackling this exceptional situation with a multiple focus, which includes following up the recommendations of the health authorities, developing real-time indicators to record the possible economic impact of COVID-19, identifying possible risks for companies or sectors that are particularly exposed, and implementing a plan of measures to mitigate their impact so that it is as limited as possible in terms of duration and scope.
Strengthening the health system
The Government has taken various measures to strengthen the response capacity of the health sector, both central government and the Autonomous Communities, to COVID-19, to contain its transmission and to care for those infected.
Firstly, the resources of the Ministry of Health have been reinforced by one billion euros through the contingency fund to cover the extraordinary expenses generated, so that it can adequately meet health needs.
In addition, the Government has decided to advance 2.8 billion euros in payments on account to the Autonomous Communities to strengthen their availability of resources to meet immediate needs arising from this situation in their health systems.
In addition, the Government is empowered to regulate the prices of certain products necessary for the protection of health and, in the event of an exceptional situation, the Interministerial Committee on the Price of Medicines may set the maximum amount of sale to the public of certain medicines and products.
Measures to support families
The main objective of the support measures for families approved today is to facilitate the protection of minors in vulnerable situations and to ensure the proper functioning of the education system in the face of the specific containment measures adopted.
The Government is providing 25 million euros of specific resources to the Autonomous Communities to guarantee the basic right to food for children in vulnerable situations affected by the closure of schools, so that this does not have undesirable added consequences. This also makes it possible to maintain the economic activity linked to these food services.
In the area of compulsory education, the administrations affected by the reinforced containment measures are authorized to modify the school calendar so that they can order the development of the course in a flexible manner.
It has also been decided that the personnel in the service of the Public Administration framed in the special regime of administrative mutualism who are in a situation of preventive isolation, as well as those who have been infected by the virus, will be considered in Temporary Incapacity assimilated to the work leave due to Work Accident. The measure adopted last Tuesday for the General Social Security System is thus extended to public employees.
Support to the business sector
The third group of measures is aimed at supporting business activity and, in particular, the groups and sectors most directly affected by COVID-19.
In order to avoid possible cash-flow problems for the self-employed and small and medium-sized enterprises, the Government is making tax deferrals more flexible for a period of six months, on request, with interest rate subsidies. This will allow up to 14 billion euros of liquidity to be injected.
Secondly, a specific financing line is available through the Official Credit Institute for an amount of 400 million euros to meet the liquidity needs of companies and self-employed workers in the tourism sector, as well as related activities that are being affected by the current situation.
Thirdly, companies that have received loans from the General Secretariat for Industry and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises are allowed to defer repayment.
Fourthly, social security benefits are extended for discontinuous permanent contracts that are carried out between February and June in the tourism, commerce and hotel and catering sectors linked to tourism activity.
Finally, the European Commission has been asked to allow the Spanish slots coordinator, AECFA, not to apply the rule regulating the use of slots for the coming seasons. This exemption would allow airlines not to be penalised in the future for having reduced their flights in the current circumstances.
Efficient management by public authorities
In order to enable the General State Administration to take the appropriate measures to deal with COVID-19, the procedure for contracting any type of goods or services that may be necessary is being speeded up.
Likewise, the Ministry of Finance is empowered to make transfers between the different budget sections in order to strengthen the financing of health policy by the State.