Russia to spend over $70 billion on virus recovery plan

MOSCOW, Russia (AFP) — Russia plans to spend about $72 billion (65 billion euro) on a plan to restore the economy following the coronavirus shutdown, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said Tuesday.

The program to boost employment, incomes and economic growth “contains over 500 measures, its cost over two years will be about five trillion rubles,” Mishustin told President Vladimir Putin in a televised meeting.

Putin described the plan as a “foundation” for repairing the economy and for “long-term structural change.”

“It is a matter of crucial importance for us to solve today’s acute problems, as well as ensure confident movement forward in the long-term,” he said.

Putin said the epidemic had “seriously impacted all spheres of life” and added that he expected to launch the recovery plan next month.

Russia has already introduced targeted tax cuts and provided some emergency aid for families, children and people newly unemployed since introducing the lockdown at the end of March.

Large sections of the economy were inactive for weeks, with some regions only recently beginning to ease anti-virus measures.

Labour Minister Anton Kotyakov said this week that over two million people in the country were registered as unemployed.

Analysts at the Boston Consulting Group last week predicted unemployment could triple from the pre-crisis figure of 4.6 percent, based on in its projections for the worst-case scenario.

The government’s forecast predicts the economy will shrink by 9.5 percent in the second quarter and up to six percent for the current year.

Russia imposed mandatory confinement in late March. Over 5,000 people have died in the country since the start of the epidemic, officials said Tuesday.

The lockdown compounded existing problems for the Russian economy, ranging from effects of sanctions following the 2014 Crimea annexation, to the oil price crash this year.

© Agence France-Presse