Finland is rather positive. Figures of the Economic Survey Spring 2020 are cautiously predicting V-shaped economic recovery. The forecast assumes that the measures that limit economic activity will last for three months. The alternative calculation is also V-shaped but much deeper, restrictions are assumed to last for six months. In Sweden there is no clear consensus on this point. Even though most people hope for a V-shaped economic recovery, many believe at present that a U-shaped economic recovery is more likely. Estonia is optimistic and predicts fast recovery if the situation changes in the nearest future, but if the crisis lasts longer then a fast recovery is improbable. Country’s advantage of having the lowest public debt in the EU provides more flexibility for stimulus. Bank of Lithuania published V, U and L scenarios; however, the economists do not currently sound positive about the V version. This seems to be in line with scenarios for the global economy.
Speaking of government support for businesses, all countries seem to apply rather standard measures – loans, subsidies, guarantees for loans, possibilities to defer tax payment. Additionally, Finland, compared to other countries, seems to be offering more tools for business to find development opportunities in addition to focusing on measures for compensation of losses or ensuring liquidity.
When it comes to supporting people who lost their jobs, countries’ approaches vary as well. While Finland and Sweden took active steps to make access to unemployment allowances easier, Estonia and Lithuania maintained the existing settings. Also, new regulations are expected to come into force in Lithuania to provide so called “job search allowances” for those who are not entitled to regular unemployment allowance, as well as temporarily increasing the amount of employment allowance.
Aid for the self-employed seems to differ significantly. In Finland, for example, they may seek a one-time EUR 2.000 aid from municipalities to pay set costs, such as rents and administrative costs. In addition, they are also eligible for unemployment security that normally would not apply. In Lithuania, on the other hand, self-employed are entitled to allowances not amounting 50% of minimum salary during quarantine and 2 months after it is cancelled. Similarly to Sweden, support for vocational training, changing the type of activities, as well as some other forms of support are on the way in Lithuania.
Sweden and Finland have also loosened requirements for students to get the grants.
Smaller or bigger government aid is reaching the recipients. Subsidies for temporary idle time are being received in all countries. For example, EUR 136 237 353 were paid for 121 627 Estonian employees by the 17th of May. Of course, the numbers are changing daily in every country.
On a positive side, we are happy to note that COVID-19 forced authorities to make progress towards reduction of bureaucracy. Lithuania offered hot line 1824 for business inquiries regarding all government support related matters. Also, you may have noticed the move of certain services online, simplification of public procurement, construction formalities and other procedures. Sweden introduced temporary law facilitating holding of shareholders meetings. Estonians can now apply for medical leave online themselves. Finns overall are happy about the flexible and helpful attitudes of their authorities in corona times. Business Finland received over 26.000 applications for aid, made almost 15.000 decisions and granted support worth EUR 401.872.000 already.