Austria plans coronavirus help for jobless, families

FILE PHOTO: Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz gestures as Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler looks on during a news conference, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Vienna, Austria, May 29, 2020. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

The Austrian government intends to make one-off payments to jobless people and boost spending on families with children as part of measures this year to cushion the blow from the coronavirus pandemic, its coalition leaders said.

Measures to be approved at a cabinet meeting next week include payments of 450 euros ($506) to the unemployed and 360 euros per child under 18, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Greens party leader Werner Kogler told broadcaster ORF in interviews aired on Saturday.

In addition, the government plans to cut the lowest income tax bracket to 20% from 25% and make the change retroactive to the start of this year.

Kurz said the coalition government of conservatives and Greens would have more to say about the costs of the measures when the meeting wraps up on Tuesday.

In May the government announced an aid package of up to 38 billion euros to keep companies and the economy afloat. On Friday it almost doubled the amount of debt it plans to issue this year to a record level.

Austria plans to cut value-added tax (VAT) for restaurants and the culture sector to 5% until the end of the year to help them cope with the fallout, the government said on Friday.

Austria has had nearly 17,000 confirmed cases of infection with the virus that causes respiratory disease COVID-19 and 677 reported deaths.

Austrian economic output will shrink by 7.2% this year if there is no second coronavirus wave in the autumn, but even a resurgence milder than the first outbreak would deepen that to 9.2%, the country’s central bank said this month.