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Australia adds $38 billion in stimulus, tightens lockdown

Christian Fernsby |
Australia’s government will spend additional A$66.4 billion ($38.50 billion) as part of a second stimulus package to shelter the economy from the financial impact of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said today, as states moved to impose major lockdowns.

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Topics: AUSTRALIA   

The new stimulus will go to individuals in need and small and medium sized businesses. Those businesses produce about a third of the country’s annual economic output and employ more than 40% of the workforce, according to government statistics.

“We will be focusing on those in the front line, those who will be feeling the first blows of the economic impact of the coronavirus,” Morrison said in Canberra on Sunday. “There will be more packages and more support.”

After an initial relatively slow spread, the number of coronavirus infections in Australia has been rising quickly in recent days, climbing to 1,098 confirmed cases as of Sunday morning with seven recorded deaths linked to COVID-19.

Morrison said that the government would help underwrite loans to small and medium sized businesses and boost unemployment benefits as companies are forced to lay off staff.

Jobseekers will get extra money and people in financial stress will also be able access up to A$10,000 tax-free of their pension funds for this and next year, while some not for profits and small businesses will have access to cash grants to keep staff employed.

Together with more than A$100 billion announced earlier in emergency banking measures to prevent a credit freeze and the initial stimulus package, Australia has now announced financial measures equaling about 10% of the country’s annual gross domestic product, the government said.

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