By Caribbean News Global
LONDON, England – Vulnerable countries will be better protected from the economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, which brings the UK’s total commitment to the international coronavirus response to up to £241 million; meantime Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £12 billion package of temporary and targeted measures to support public services, individuals and businesses through the economic disruption caused by COVID-19, in today’s (March 11) budget.
“Up to £150 million of new UK aid will go to the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT) to help developing countries deal with the short term economic disruption caused by coronavirus, allowing them to focus their spending on tackling the outbreak,” he said.
Countries will receive support if they experience a severe decline in national income or falling government revenues as a result of coronavirus. This will help lessen economic disruption, particularly where vulnerable countries might otherwise default on debt repayments and trigger further economic impacts.
“COVID-19 has already had a major impact on oil prices and global stock markets in recent weeks. The IMF fund is designed to lessen the disease’s future global economic impact, which will also safeguard the UK economy,” stated Chancellor Sunak
The Chancellor of the Exchequer Sunak delivering the budget March 10, said: “The governor of the Bank of England and I are in close contact with our counterparts, around the world, in the G7 and the G20. And to support the global response, I’m also making new funding of £150m available for the IMF’s relief efforts.”
International Development Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said:“The UK is yet again playing a crucial role delivering greater stability in the face of crisis. We are determined to lessen the economic effect of the coronavirus outbreak on developing countries, which in turn will reduce its global impact. This support will make a very real difference to those countries which are most vulnerable to coronavirus. It will allow them to focus on battling this outbreak, which should be every country’s first priority.”
The International Monetary Fund set up the CCRT in 2015 to cope with economic shocks caused by natural disasters or public health emergencies. It successfully helped Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea respond to the Ebola crisis in 2015. The UK was the first country to support this fund and is historically one of its largest contributors.
UK aid is already at the centre of the coronavirus response. Since the outbreak began – £91 million of which has been invested in the research of vaccines and diagnostic tests, and in supporting the World Health Organization (WHO) and developing countries to prevent the virus spreading around the world.
Meanwhile, the Chancellor announced a package of measures to provide support for public services, individuals and businesses to ensure the impact of COVID-19 is minimised.
The government continues to work closely with the Bank of England and international partners and announced a 3-point plan at the budget.
“A new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will enable businesses with a turnover of no more than £41 million to apply for a loan of up to £1.2 million, with the government covering up to 80 percent of any losses with no fees. This will unlock up to £1 billion to protect and support small businesses.
“For businesses with fewer than 250 employees, the cost of providing 14 days of statutory sick pay per employee will be refunded by the government in full. This will provide two million businesses with up to £2 billion to cover the costs of large-scale sick leave,” he said.
A dedicated helpline has been set up to help businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities receive support with their tax affairs.
“Through this, businesses may be able to agree a bespoke Time to Pay arrangement. If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.
“There will be a £3,000 cash grant to 700,000 of our smallest businesses, delivered by local authorities, and worth a total of £2 billion. Finally, the government is temporarily increasing the business rates retail discount in England to 100 percent for 2020-21 for properties below £51,000 rateable value. Nearly half of all business properties will not pay a penny of business rates,” the Chancellor said.