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Economy & Business - March 2021

ECONOMIC HIGHLIGHTS

CHILE | Ramping up pandemic aid. President Sebastián Piñera’s government has expanded economic relief programmes in the context of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, as the virus remains rife in Chile despite a successful vaccination programme (see p.11). On 11 March, Piñera announced a package of benefits for middle-class Chileans (earning up to Cl$2m [US$2,800] per month) whose income has been affected by the pandemic. It consists of a voucher worth between Cl$400,000 and Cl$600,000; a zero-interest ‘solidarity loan’ to make up for lost income; and a new rent subsidy. Four days earlier, on 7 March, Piñera had announced the extension and expansion of employment protection measures until June. These include the extension of the employment protection law, which allows companies to furlough employees and for these to receive unemployment benefits, and the expansion of a programme through which the government subsidises salaries to encourage the return to work of furloughed employees and the creation of new jobs. This adds to a support plan for the tourism & creative industries sector announced on 15 February, which includes Cl$55bn worth of subsidies.

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