HELSINKI, May 14 (Xinhua) -- The Finnish government on Thursday rolled out a general support program for small and medium-sized enterprises that have "suffered the most" from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mika Lintila, Finland's minister of economic affairs, said that the government had decided to allocate nearly one billion euros (1.08 billion U.S. dollars) to businesses negatively affected by the pandemic.
Aid of between 2,000 euros and 200,000 euros would be available for businesses with less than 250 employees. Decline in turnover would be the key criterion, Lintila said.
Subject to parliamentary approval, the aid would be available for two months. "The idea is to create a fairly simple system that could be activated again if the crisis drags on," Lintila said.
The country's parliament also began processing an aid package for restaurants earlier this week.
Juho Romakkaniemi, chief executive officer (CEO) of Finland Chamber of Commerce, on Thursday commented that the "general aid" came rather late in Finland. Speaking on national radio Yle, he said that Sweden and Denmark had started with a general approach to aid, while in Finland the first measures against COVID-19's impact on businesses were based on innovation funding.
Mika Maliranta, research professor at the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority, said that Finland would nevertheless face the largest wave of bankruptcies for a century. He said he was concerned that young companies with weak balance sheets may falter.
Mikael Pentikainen, CEO of the Federation of Finnish Enterprises, told Yle that not enough details were available to assess whether the aid system would be just and balanced.
As of Thursday, Finland has reported 6,145 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 287 deaths. At least 4,300 people have recovered, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare said. Enditem