SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday the government would soon announce a package to stimulate an economy hammered by the effects of the coronavirus outbreak, but did not give financial details of the plan.
“Our objective is this – keep people in jobs, keep businesses in business, and ensure we bounce back stronger on the other side,” Morrison said at the Australian Financial Review conference in Sydney.
“We must favor measures that will lift productivity to enable the Australian economy to sustain an even stronger growth trajectory than we were on prior to the crisis.”
The prime minister said the impacts from the coronavirus outbreak were “potentially greater” than the global financial crisis of 2008, and the stimulus package would be geared to meet the “unique nature” of the challenge from the virus outbreak.
A report in the Australian newspaper on Monday said the Australian government was planning measures worth about A$ 10 billion ($ 6.6 billion) to combat the economic impact of the coronavirus, abandoning plans for a budget surplus in the current fiscal year.
The coronavirus has killed about 3,900 people across the globe, with three deaths in Australia. Stock markets have plunged, prompting central banks to ease monetary policies.
The virus has wreaked havoc on the tourism and education sectors, both big money spinners for Australia, with the Treasury department estimating that the epidemic will cut 0.5 percentage points off economic growth in the first quarter.
Morrison also said big businesses in the country should step up and assist the government in its economic recovery efforts.
“We need you to support your workers by keeping them employed. Whenever possible, support them. Full-time, part-time, casual, including with paid leave if they need to take time off during the course of the virus,” he said.
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