(DF) Ministers Expect Slow Recovery of Transport Sector and Tough Tourist Summer

June 15 (BTA) – Transport Minister Rossen Zhelyazkov told a roundtable discussion on Monday that the transport sector is likely to recover from the COVID-19 crisis slowly. He said that the government cannot replace consumer demand, but it can create the necessary prerequisites to boost demand and thus support businesses. Zhelyazkov and Labour and Social Policy Minister Denitsa Sacheva presented measures in support of the businesses that are worst affected by the crisis: bus companies, tour operators and travel agents. The roundtable was organized by the Confederation of Bus Carriers and the Bulgarian Association of Travel Agents. Sacheva said that during the March 13 – May 13 state of emergency established by Parliament due to the spread of the coronavirus and the subsequent government-proclaimed epidemic emergency, which is still in place, 84,568 Bulgarians have lost their job while 65,537 unemployed people in the country have started work. In tourism, 17,300 people have lost their job. The month of May saw 6,633 persons start work in the sector. In transport, 4,746 people have become jobless. Employment in the bus transport sector will be supported short-term with a proposed package of 40 million leva, which will be disbursed as wage subsidies for six months, starting July 1. The subsidies will amount to 290 leva per person per month. It has been proposed that the measure should be applied with the new version of the 60/40 job retention scheme in order to achieve a ratio of 80/20, Sacheva said. The government is working on the possibility to expand the scope of this measure to include the tourism sector as well. A final decision from the European Commission is pending, Sacheva said. In the transport sector, the measure could benefit up to 22,000 workers, depending on the interest shown by their employers, and in tourism it could encompass up to 80,000 workers, which is approximately the total number of tourism workers as at the end of March, according to National Statistical Institute data cited by Sacheva. In tourism, in addition to the 60/40 measure and the subsidy scheme, the Labour and Social Policy Ministry has proposed active measures for unemployed people to the total amount of 160 million leva. Under these measures, the government will give employers the minimum wage for every worker they have hired. Fifty million leva out of the total of 160 million is proposed to be channelled into tourism. Sacheva expressed hope that the implementation of the measure begins on July 1. NV/VE /СН/