Albania to pay $350 to workers of businesses hit by coronavirus crisis

TIRANA (Reuters) – Albania will pay a one-off sum of 40,000 leke ($350.78) to 176,000 workers in businesses hurt by measures to contain the coronavirus, Finance Minister Anila Denaj said on Tuesday.

Having given big businesses the opportunity of financing wages with a sovereign guarantee, the minister said the government wanted to try and limit the number of job losses to the current 50,000. She said 20,000 businesses, including in tourism, had been shut down.

“In the first package we directly financed wages of businesses that were shut down. Now we are giving 40,000 leke payable once to workers within April,” she said.

The expanded package was aimed at helping big businesses stop the layoffs “and it is an incentive to re-build their activity after May by adopting a different approach than the current one with their workers,” Denaj said.

Albania has shut down most businesses except supermarkets, pharmacies, banks, call centres and the garments industries since mid-March when it had the first coronavirus infections.

Despite more activity in April than March, half the economy of one of Europe’s poorest countries, was frozen, Denaj said.

She added those who were not working or had lost their jobs could be re-trained to work in other sectors, but did not say which ones. A plan by Albania to hire workers from Asia to build houses for 17,000 made homeless by an earthquake last Nov. 26 has failed because of travel bans imposed in the pandemic.

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