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€1b aid to cash-strapped businesses approved

Published : 27 Mar 2020, 00:48

  DF News Desk

Finance Katri Kulmuni. File Photo Finnish government by Laura Kotila.

The parliament on Thursday raised the financial aid to enterprises to a billion euros from the 200 million proposed by the cabinet last week, Minister of Finance Katri Kulmuni said at a press conference, reported news agency Xinhua.

Aid would be processed swiftly, she noted.

Last week the government authorized 12-billion-euro loan facilities to alleviate the impact of the COVID-19.

However, pressure from small and medium-sized enterprises has been accumulating. They are in need of instant cash aid with no payback required.

The plight of the small enterprises was accentuated with the pending legislation to close restaurants next week. Only those providing takeaway food would be allowed.

A survey by the Department of Finance at Finland's Aalto University published on Thursday indicated that 40 to 50 percent of the catering and tourism sector would face serious problems in a month without outside help. Kulmuni was unwilling, however, to specify how the sector would be supported.

Pekka Lundmark, chairman of the Confederation of Finnish Industries, said on Thursday it is important that "everyone able to do so" will continue consuming. "It is important that we do not create a mass hysteria," he told newspaper Helsingin Sanomat.

Pellervo Economic Research Institute (PTT), a leading research institute in Finland, recently published a survey, saying that the Finnish GDP could shrink up to six percent this year. In other recent forecasts, the ETLA gave five percent as the lowest and the Bank of Finland, four.