President of Guatemala asks Congress of the Republic to approve temporary measures to address the COVID-19 crisis

On Wednesday, March 18, 2020, President Alejandro Giammattei appeared before the Congress of the Republic to announce the implementation of a National Program for Emergency and Economic Recovery, in the context of the health crisis of COVID-19.

This Program contemplates several areas of singular importance, including the management of the following international loans:

      a) IBRD Loan of $200,000,000 for Development Policies on Disaster Risk Management with a Deferred Disbursement Option for Disasters.

      b) CABEI loan for the Investment Program in Hospital Infrastructure and Equipment in the amount of $193,200,000.00.

President Giammattei also presented a Law Initiative that provides temporary measures of responsibility and solidarity, highlighted by the following measures:

1. Payments to the Superintendency of Tax Administration due for March may be transferred to April without fines or charges with additional facilities to sign an agreement to pay taxes for up to 10 installments on the tax obligations of the months March, April, and May.

2. Exemption from taxes and customs duties for imports as a donation for charitable purposes to churches, non-governmental organizations, and charities, during March, April, and May.

3. Regarding the banking sector, compulsory exemption from default and a reduction of interest rates on guaranteed loans and credit cards during March, April, and May, while also seeking to facilitate access to credit with low rates for SMEs.

4. In the workplace, workers who present special conditions such as advanced age, health or vulnerability, will be protected in their jobs without prejudice to advantages or job prerogatives.

5. The Ministry of Social Development and the Ministry of Agriculture will deliver bonds exchangeable for basic basket products to families with unstable or informal incomes and people over 65 without income.

6. Ban on visiting recreation or vacation spots.

7. Tax amnesty and exemption from taxes on income not derived from acts that constitute a crime, subject to specific conditions of each case

8. Work license with salary for at least 15 days when the state of disaster ends for people over 60 years of age, those diagnosed with diabetes, cancer, immunodeficiency, hypertension, cardiovascular or respiratory diseases, liver or kidney diseases (including dialysis), neuropathies, and other pathologies or similar mental situations.

9. Disposition of a fund of Q. 1,500,000,000.00 to attend to the emergency.

10. Readjustment of a fund of Q. 500,000,000.00 to strengthen the hospital network.

11. A guarantee of the continuity of basic services–water, electricity, and telephone for as long as the state of disaster lasts.

The law initiative is discussed in the Congress of the Republic, through a special parliamentary committee.