The Turkish government's steps to support the economy in the face of the coronavirus pandemic have reached a value of TL 200 billion ($28.7 billion), Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said on Saturday.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan initially announced a TL100 billion package – the Economic Stability Shield – to support citizens and businesses on March 18, postponing debt payments and reducing tax burdens in some sectors. Since then, Ankara has gradually widened the measures.
Turkey's confirmed cases of COVID-19 increased by 2,861 on Saturday with the death toll rising to 2,706, Health Ministry data showed. The total number of cases reached 107,773, while a total of 25,582 people have recovered so far.
With the pandemic forcing businesses to furlough or lay off staff, the government has also stepped in to top up income or pay daily stipends, while small businesses are being given access to fresh loans.
"The total value of the steps we have taken so far has reached TL 200 billion," Albayrak said in a video posted on his Twitter account.
Among the measures, funds totaling TL 107.4 billion have been provided to some 120,000 companies as part of financing package backed by Credit Guarantee Fund (KGF) to protect employment and support businesses, he said. In total, some 143,769 applications were made so far for the package, while 96% of the companies who received financing consisted of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
An additional TL 16.8 billion has been provided in support to tradesmen, Albayrak added.
The minister emphasized that financial support has been given to 4.4 million families, with a total of TL 22.3 billion set aside to meet the basic needs of some 4 million citizens.
In addition, the minister said the government would provide TL 1,000 in financial aid to citizens who weren't included within the scope of the support but lost their income and jobs in this period.
Family, Labor and Social Services Minister Zehra Zümrüt Selçuk announced last week that salaries of 3 million employees have been paid to bail out firms suffering amid the coronavirus lockdown.
Selçuk had said over 268,000 firms applied for the short-term employment allowance, which the government announced earlier this month to cushion the fallout of the pandemic.
She said 40% of the applications came from the manufacturing sector, 15% from retailers and wholesalers, 12% from hotels and food companies, 6% from the educational sector and 27% from miscellaneous firms.
Any firm forced out of business due to a force majeure, such as the pandemic, can approach the government.
As part of the allowance, the government pays 60% of the staff salaries for a period of three months – within the ranges of TL 1,752 to TL 4,381.
The government will also pay a daily allowance of TL 39.24 for a period of three months to workers forced to take unpaid leave.
The country backs employers with minimum wage and tax support besides the short-term employment allowance. Turkey increased the minimum pension to TL 1,500 after the start of the outbreak.
The government also barred companies from nullifying workers' contracts for three months except in unconscionable situations to protect those lacking job security while mitigating the outbreak’s effects on the economy.