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Spanish gov't announces 200-bln-euro aid package for coronavirus crisis

(Xinhua)    09:07, March 18, 2020

MADRID, March 17 (Xinhua) -- The Spanish government on Tuesday announced that it will inject 200 billion euros (220 billion U.S. dollars) into the national economy in a series of measures to offset the effects of coronavirus epidemic.

Explaining the measures, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said that the government aid was equivalent to 20 percent of Spain's gross domestic product (GDP), with 117 billion euros coming from the public purse and the remainder from private sector's contribution.

"We are living a situation without precedent ... these are exceptional times and we need exceptional measures," said Sanchez.

"We have to slow the curve of job losses and production and act together with resolve. We need the collaboration of all of the actors in the economy," he said, thanking unions, employers, party and regional leaders for their support and cooperation.

"The challenge is to slow the fall of production and employment, then to turn the curve in an upward direction and to ensure the curve is a 'V' (i.e. fast recovery) and not an 'L': we have to be decisive," continued the prime minister.

"Nobody will be left behind, especially those who will need the most protection. We will protect them from this crisis," he said, explaining that the measures had four aims.

Sanchez said the first aim was to protect families and stressed that people who lose their jobs due to the effects of the virus will also have their mortgage payments suspended. Meanwhile, the government will also guarantee the supply of water, electricity and gas to" vulnerable" households.

"Nobody will lose their home due to the coronavirus," he said.

Sanchez also announced a series of measures to protect workers and make sure that a "temporary crisis does not have long-term effects."

The prime minister confirmed that workers whose employment is temporarily suspended because of the effects of COVID-19 will be eligible for full unemployment payments for the period their work is interrupted.

Sanchez also said that the procedure for claiming unemployment benefits would be speeded up, while also making it easier for self-employed workers affected by the crisis to claim unemployment pay.

Companies would have access to "all the liquidity" necessary with the creation of a line of public credit, and the government will also provide further funds to "support scientific and medical investigations to help find a vaccine" for COVID-19.

"We have to protect our employment, our families and our companies to make sure nobody is left behind," insisted Sanchez.

On Tuesday, Spain's Ministry of Health, Consumer Affairs and Social Services confirmed that the country now has 11,178 COVID-19 cases and 491 fatalities. (1 euro = 1.10 U.S. dollar)

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: He Zhuoyan, Bianji)

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