Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, the top economic leader, said Friday that Beijing will give local governments 2 trillion yuan (280 billion dollars) to help them eliminate the damage caused by the closures imposed to curb the spread of the virus, after it first appeared in central China in Late in 2019.
And he told me at the annual session of the largely ceremonial National People’s Congress that the battle against the coronavirus, which has infected at least 5 million people worldwide, is “not over”.
Lawmakers were meeting under strict health precautions in Beijing after the gathering was postponed for nearly two months, while China was still striving to stem the outbreak.
China reported 4 confirmed cases of the virus on Friday, and there were no new deaths.
On the other hand, the Bank of Japan pledged, on Friday, to provide more support to the country’s economy hit by the epidemic.
In an emergency meeting, the Bank of Japan said it will provide $ 280 billion in interest-free, unsecured loans to banks to finance small and medium-sized companies that are fighting the economic hardships caused by the epidemic.
The Japanese economy was already slipping into recession in late 2019 before the outbreak, leading to devastating economies almost everywhere as consumers ordered to stay in their homes and companies to remain closed in many severely affected areas.
The impact on Japan’s unemployment rate remains unclear, as the country has not imposed strict closings, and many people are still on the job.
European countries have also seen heavy job losses, but strong government safety nets programs in places like Germany and France support the wages of millions of workers, keeping them on the payroll.
Private sector analysts say that up to 30 percent of the 442 million urban workers in China, or as many as 130 million people, have lost jobs at least temporarily, and they believe that up to 25 million jobs may have been lost forever this year.
“It seems that the employers have stopped hiring. All available jobs are not good and no one wants to go,” said Zhang Jijun, a migrant worker who came to Beijing from western Shanxi Province.
America .. millions of applications for aid
In the United States, even as gradually returning to reopen economies and allow them to return to work began, the Department of Labor said more than 2.4 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week.
The latest figures do not indicate that 38.6 million people who applied for unemployment are still unemployed, some of whom have been called in, and others have acquired new jobs, but the vast majority are still unemployed.
While the number of weekly benefits requests has slowed for 7 consecutive weeks, the numbers are ten times higher than usual.
“While the steady decline in claims is good news, the job market is still in a terrible state,” said Gus Fucher, chief economist at BNC Financial.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said over the weekend that US unemployment may peak in May or June at 20 percent to 25 percent, the level last seen in the depths of the Great Depression almost 90 years ago.
The unemployment rate in April was 14.7 percent, a figure not seen since the 1930s.
In other developments, the World Bank has announced a $ 500 million program for countries in East Africa to fight “Covid 19” disease and deadly floods, along with historical swarms of devastating Desert Locust.
The additional threat of the epidemic has put a region where a fifth of the world’s food-insecure population lives, including millions in southern Sudan and Somalia, and experts say climate change is partly the cause of the locust epidemic, the worst in 70 years.
For its part, Oxfam, one of the world’s leading relief agencies, said it was closing its offices in 18 countries because of the financial pressure caused by the epidemic.
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