July 3, 2020 / 12:02 PM / a month ago

Portugal passes supplementary budget for COVID-19 crisis

LISBON, July 3 (Reuters) - Portugal’s parliament approved on Friday in its final reading a supplementary budget that boosts spending by 4.3 billion euros ($4.83 billion) to help the economy through the coronavirus crisis, with major opposition parties abstaining.

The minority Socialist government’s plan includes 1.6 billion euros for jobs, employment training and a new furlough scheme, tax discounts and delays for companies pursuing investments or particularly hard-hit by the crisis, as well as 500 million euros for the national health service.

Only the 108-strong Socialist bench voted for the plan in the 230-seat house, but as most other benches abstained that was enough to approve it.

Still, the Socialists’ ally in the previous legislature, the Communist Party, felt the plan did not go far enough to protect workers and voted against - the first time they have opposed a budget put forward by the Socialists since 2015.

The pandemic opened an 8.7 billion euro hole in public revenue, Finance Minister Joao Leao said last month, predicting a 6.3% deficit in 2020 and an increase in public debt to 134.4% of GDP from last year’s 117.7%. ($1 = 0.8904 euros) (Reporting by Victoria Waldersee, Editing by Andrei Khalip)

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