The Timorese Council of Ministers today approved a socio-economic plan with about 20 measures to respond to the negative effects of covid-19 on the national economy, said the executive.

“The plan was approved in its entirety and on Wednesday the various diplomas necessary for its implementation will be approved,” Fidelis Magalhães, interim coordinating minister for Economic Affairs, told Lusa.

“The total cost of these measures will be proportional to the impacts of the health emergency and the economic measures will be dynamic and will be calibrated while the economic impact lasts”, says the Government in a statement, without detailing the partial costs of the measures.

The measures, which had already been discussed for several weeks, were discussed and endorsed on Friday during a meeting of the Timorese government’s interministerial commission to deal with covid-19.

Today, they were formally approved at the meeting of the Council of Ministers, which decided to request the President of the Republic to extend the state of emergency for another 30 days.

These are measures aimed especially at “protecting people, protecting jobs, sustaining consumption and supporting private sector activities” and include a “basic monthly income” to more than 214 thousand families for three months and the payment of up to 60 % of the salaries of workers in the formal sector who are under contract reduction or suspension.

Among the “strategic measures” are also the purchase of a stock of emergency rice for three months, “to compensate for possible shortages during the pandemic”, the allocation of subsidies to guarantee national connectivity, and the guarantee of air connection three times a week for “crucial medical and emergency calls” between Dili and Darwin.

The measures also included the subsidy for the maritime transport of goods from Ataúro and Oecússi and the extension of discharges at the sea port around the clock and the granting of partial exemption for the payment of electricity bills and exemption for the payment of water bills.

Companies and workers will also be exempt from contributions to Social Security and payments of rents from State properties will be exempt.

The Government also approved a credit program with reduced rates, “credit guarantees for importers of essential goods and emergency loans”.

A program will also be implemented to increase the supply of food on the south coast and measures “to guarantee the availability of agricultural, livestock and fisheries production factors”.

Given the decision to close the borders to the entry of citizens of any country, the Government also decided to provide financial support to more than 4 200 Timorese students abroad as well as internet subsidies for students in Timor-Leste.

Timor-Leste has recorded 22 confirmed cases of covid-19 so far, including one recovered.

Globally, the covid-19 pandemic has already caused more than 164,000 deaths and infected more than 2.3 million people in 193 countries and territories. More than 525,000 patients were considered cured.