If new restrictions shut down some businesses, they will be helped by a new relief package, as they have been before – especially the tourism and hospitality industry, which the pandemic affected the most, Economy Minister Kreshnik Bekteshi told Alsat TV in an interview.
Minister Bekteshi said vouchers to promote local tourism will still be issued after an open call is launched in early April.
However, given the unpredictable situation ahead of the tourist season and foreign tourists likely deciding not to travel, according to Bekteshi, the vouchers will not be the only help offered to the tourism industry.
The Ministry of Economy is developing an entire program to assist the sector “if this summer season is also lost due to the pandemic,” he said in the interview.
He also highlighted that it is the best interest of the citizens and the economy for Parliament to vote for the fifth relief package, which has been blocked by the opposition for some time.
“It would be best not to block laws that are in the interest of citizens, private sector employees and companies alike, bearing in mind we ended last year with a 4.5-percent drop in the economy—which was almost identical to the government projections—and January and February figures showing that budget revenues have increased and economic activity is in line with our forecasts,” the Economy Minister said.
Urging MPs again to vote for the relief package, he stressed that the measures it contains have been developed in consultation with all economic chambers and unions to provide them with the support they need during this time.
Regarding requests by wedding venue owners to be able to open their restaurants under special protocols, the minister once again highlighted that the government is acting on recommendations by the Commission for Infectious Diseases and that public health should be prioritized.
He said that almost every wedding venue last year received financial support after their businesses were temporarily shut down with a governmental decision.
“I would like to ask them for some patience,” Bekteshi said, “considering that the utmost priority right now is citizens’ health.”
He pointed out that coronavirus cases spike after large gatherings, so they should be avoided.
Bekteshi also noted that despite the pandemic and the crisis it caused, figures showed a stable economy. The country’s budget was liquid, budget revenues were growing as was trade, and the trend was expected to continue throughout the year, he added.