The Australian State of Victoria has announced an additional 3-billion-Australian dollar (2.18-billion-U.S. dollar) support package for businesses under COVID-19 lockdown, including tax relief and cash handouts.
The move roughly doubles total state government support, as Victoria deals with a strict lockdown which has lasted since early August and is expected to continue for at least another month.
“For our state to recover, we need our businesses to recover too. As we take our first safe and steady steps towards COVID normal, this support will help make sure we get through this together,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said on Sunday.
On Monday, the state recorded its lowest number of new infections since late June, with 35 confirmed cases.
As part of the new business support package, over 1.1 billion Australian dollars (800 million U.S. dollars) in cash grants will go to supporting small and medium-sized businesses which have been most affected by the restrictions.
Individual businesses can receive grants of up to 20,000 Australian dollars (14,500 U.S. dollars), while those in the hospitality industry will be eligible for up to 30,000 Australian dollars (21,800 U.S. dollars), due to their heightened exposure to the impact of lockdown laws.
Payroll tax was deferred for most small and medium businesses for the full 2020-21 financial year and liquor licensing fees were waived for the full year of 2021.
Efforts were also being made to assist businesses in adapting to the new online economic environment, with 44 million Australian dollars (32 million U.S. dollars) in support available for businesses to access the applicable software and training.
Local exporters who have been impacted by the virus will be supported in addressing logistics and supply chain issues and establishing new export channels, under a 15.7-million-Australian dollar (11.4-million-U.S. dollar) export recovery package
“Victoria is home to some of the best fresh food, wine, galleries and homewares in the world, but the pandemic has hit many small producers hard,” a government statement said.
“Businesses will be connected to international markets through virtual trade missions as well as assistance to adapt their export strategies to respond to the rapidly changing global market.”