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MADRID, March 17 (Reuters) - Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Tuesday announced an “unprecedented” 200 billion euros ($219 billion) aid package to protect jobs and reduce the impact of the coronavirus epidemic on the economy.
Sanchez told a news conference the crisis had put the brakes on the Spanish economy and the government would need to draw up a new “reconstruction budget”.
The package of loans, credit guarantees and direct aid represents about 20% of the country’s gross domestic product, Sanchez said. The government would provide 117 billion euros with the rest from private companies.
The measures include 100 billion euros in state-backed credit guarantees and unlimited liquidity help for companies.
“Our goal is to prevent a temporary crisis from having a permanent negative impact on our labour market,” Sanchez said.
“We want to protect employment and we want companies to know the government will help them,” he said. “Nobody will be left behind.”
The government intends to help workers who lose their jobs because of the crisis, as well as elderly people and other vulnerable Spaniards.
Sanchez said the plan would protect “strategic” Spanish companies from foreign buyers looking to take advantage of collapsing share prices. ($1 = 0.9117 euros) (Reporting by Inti Landauro, Jesus Aguado, Belen Carreno, Emma Pinedo and Nathan Allen; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Giles Elgood)