Finance minister promises state support for companies hit by coronavirus

Finance minister Martin Helme at a government session Monday.
Finance minister Martin Helme at a government session Monday. Source: Government Office

Workable solutions are needed as a matter of urgency to minimize the impact of coronavirus on the Estonian economy, finance minister Martin Helme (EKRE) said on Monday. Helme also said that he wouldn't rule out stimulating the economy via an additional state budget, including state support for hard-hit firms.

"At present, it is hard to predict how long the virus is going to last and what its extent will become, but the situation today is it will have a negative impact on both global and Estonian economies," Helme said, according to ERR's online news in Estonian.

"It is up to the state to do everything it can to prevent our companies from going bankrupt and surviving this difficult time; whether this be via different tax measures, credit guarantees or business loans," he added, according to a government press release.'

"It is also vital that the economic shock does not cause unexpected problems in the labor market, and that those who lose their jobs as a result of the crisis do not find themselves in an economically difficult situation," Helme continued.

Issues and needs can vary across different sectors of the economy and even within different companies in the same sector, Helme found. A government working group will map out which areas are most affected and what the most appropriate support solutions for them are.

The working group includes Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas (Center), Minister of Foreign Trade and Information Technology Kaimar Karu, Deputy Governor of Eesti Pank Ülo Kaasik, along with experts from the finance and economic affairs ministries, as well as Helme himself.

Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik (Center) has also reportedly been invited to the next meeting, in relation to employment and workforce issues.

Additionally, various scenarios are being analyzed which could have an impact on Estonia's economic growth and fiscal regime. Possible bottlenecks within the financial sector are also being separately mapped, it is reported.

The finance minister said it was time-critical to develop appropriate measures and solutions within the next few weeks, so that these can be implemented immediately should the situation escalate. 

The working group plans to reconvene Friday.

Helme announced last week that it will convene the working group, to analyze the economic impact of coronavirus and develop mitigation measures in the event of any potential economic crisis. 

In a worse-case scenario, Helme said, the government could start drafting an additional budget.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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