In addition to finding the ways to protect people’s health and save lives, which is the first and most important goal, the Coronavirus pandemic has posed another challenge to the global and national economies – using all available resources to try and avoid a dramatic decline of economic activities, a rise of unemployment and the panic reaction of the financial market actors, caused by interrupted supply and production chains, and drastic reduction of demand in numerous sectors on the global level.
An adequate response to these challenges requires coordination and cooperation among all political, businesses and social actors, and defining a set of measures for stabilizing the economy. For this reason, NALED has offered its help to the institutions of the Republic of Serbia and submitted an initiative to establish a public-private dialogue among the leaders of economic policy, businesses, civil sector and the international community through urgent establishing of a joint expert group which would provide analytical and technical support to the Crisis Unit for mitigating the existing and preventing possible adverse effects of the disease on the economy.
With the aim of preserving jobs and maintaining business continuity and liquidity, as well as providing support to local communities and individuals imposed to strongest adverse impact, NALED has proposed the adoption of a set of urgent measures to be implemented during the crisis:
Temporary reduction of labour taxes and contributions or the introduction of instalment payments of all labour-related liabilities, without interest, for entrepreneurs, micro and SME sector, and/or the most jeopardized sectors, depending on the results of economic impact analysis of the pandemic;
In cooperation with the banking sector, combined with additional funds allocated from the national budget, ensuring access to low-cost or interest-free loans to businesses, intended for maintaining liquidity and refinancing liabilities, with a possibility of approving grace periods for the repayment of new loans;
Ensure one-time financial support and/or introduce a moratorium during at least three months for repaying bank loan and all liabilities to the state for companies and entrepreneurs operating in the most jeopardized sectors and recording a significant drop in revenues, as well as for the individuals who were laid off;
Prevent the rise of prices with an adequate system of using commodity reserves and strengthened inspection oversight, along with the introduction of the contact centre for citizens and businesses;
Expand the measure of labour tax and contributions exemptions during the first year of work to lump-sum entrepreneurs, to encourage self-employment;
Expand the scope of regulations governing simplified/electronic registration of seasonal workers to sectors particularly prone to fluctuations (such as tourism), and temporary jobs that will be particularly seen during the epidemic (household assistance, couriers, babysitting etc.);
Stimulate cashless payments through media channels, as well as the potential reduction / partial refund of VAT in case of card payments as a measure for preventing epidemics, but also a measure to maintain the legal flows of the economy;
Introduce public works as a measure for encouraging employment of vulnerable groups and stimulating local economic development;
Introduce extended maternity leave and vouchers for hiring household assistance for babysitting, to help parents deal with the closing of schools;
Establish a special fund for financial support to local governments/regions whose population and businesses experience the most adverse effects.
In cooperation with the Office for IT and eGovernment, and with the support of EBRD, NALED has already taken the steps to urgently establish a Contact centre for filing reports on law breaching situations to all national inspections, with the aim of preventing the rise of the shadow economy and illegal price increase for the basic food items, protective equipment and disinfection agents, groceries and medical supplies.
The listed measures stand as a preliminary proposal requiring further feasibility and impact analysis, as well as further adaption depending on further developments and the needs of businesses, local governments and citizens. We invite all members to actively engage in public policymaking and submit their comments and suggestions for overcoming the crisis at the e-mail: [email protected]