A 'loja' in Maliana, Bobonaro District. (Image/MFTP)

DILI, April 25, 2020 (TATOLI) – The government of Timor-Leste will grant an extraordinary wage subsidy to 30,000 workers, in a “short-term intervention” to address the economic impacts of Covid-19.

The Interim Minister for Economic Affairs, Fidélis Manuel Leite Magalhães, said the main objective is to keep people in work, as business slows down amid the pandemic.

Interim Minister for Economic Affairs, Fidelis Manuel Leite Mangalhães. (Image//Egas Cristovão)

“The government will provide a wage allowance to approximately 30,000 workers so that they can continue their work, reducing the impact on their income,” the Minister said on Wednesday.

Under the decree – put forward by the Minister of Social Solidarity and Inclusion, Armanda Berta dos Santos – the government will provide the equivalent of 60 per cent of the salary, with the remaining 40 per cent to come from the employer.

“Companies will not be able to fire their employees during the state of emergency period,” he said.

He also stressed that this measure applies equally to taxi operators and bus drivers.

“The Government is currently investigating all the data, as they are one of the main targets in this process”, he said.

All households “composed of at least one citizen” will be covered, provided that “none of its members regularly receive a monthly amount in excess of US $500”.

The support is worth 100 U.S. dollars per month, per household. If approved by the President this week, payments will begin flowing by early May. The subsidy will be financed by previously-approved Covid-19 emergency funds.

Mr Magalhães added that all workers must lodge paperwork with the Register Book (Uma Kain).

The governor also said that these workers will be exempt from paying social contributions during the period of the state of emergency.

“Workers will receive the full salary, because the Government does not intend to make any cuts,” he concluded.

However, it’s unclear what effect the subsidies will have on people working in the informal sector, which makes up an estimated 60 per cent of Timor-Leste’s workforce.

Journalist: Antónia Gusmão

Editors: Robert Baird, Julia Chatarina

Translation: Nelia Borges

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