Portugal: Pandemic support has reached 2.2M people, 150,000 companies, costing €2B – minister

Support in response to the Covid-19 pandemic has so far covered 2.2 million people and 150,000 companies, at a direct cost of two billion euros, the minister of labour said in parliament on Monday.

“This extraordinary support has covered 2.2 million people, 150,000 companies and had a direct cost of two billion euros and 500 million costs associated with exemptions and reductions in contributions,” said minister Ana Mendes Godinho.

She was speaking at the hearing in the Budget and Finance Committee, as part of the general assessment of the proposed State Budget for 2021 (OE2021), which will be voted on Wednesday.

In her initial speech, the minister took stock of the support approved by the government under Covid-19, stating that “100% isolation leave has already reached 110 thousand people” and that “covid sick leave has covered 34 thousand people”.

In turn, the extension of minimum social benefits, such as unemployment social benefit or Social Insertion Income reached around 60 thousand people, continued Ana Mendes Godinho.

As for employment support measures, the government indicated that the simplified lay-off, a measure that ended in July for most situations, covered 895,000 workers and ‘post-lay-off’ measures, operational since July” covered 460,000 workers.

She stressed that, for next year, the OE2021 “reinforces the role of the social state” and does not constitute an “austerity response” as in previous crises, mentioning that an increase in spending of €1.96 billion is foreseen for support to families, employment, among others.

She highlighted the new social benefit foreseen in the OE2021, whose initial forecast, which was “very built with the left parties”, was of around 175,000 people and 450 million euros.

However, the government added, this estimate “will have to be adjusted” according to the negotiations with the parties of the left with a view to the approval of the OE2021.