March 18, 2020 / 2:08 PM / 19 days ago

Slovenia to delay loan repayments to ease coronavirus impact on business

LJUBLJANA, March 18 (Reuters) - Slovenian moved to lessen the impact of the coronavirus crisis on businesses and farmers on Wednesday with a law that will delay bank loan repayments to those affected by 12 months.

Finance Minister Andrej Sircelj told a news conference after a government meeting that the Slovenian financial system "is stable and will remain stable" even after the law on loan repayment delays is enforced in the coming weeks.

"The liquidity of the financial system is stable, robust, therefore the law will not influence the financial system and financial stability in the country," Sircelj said.

Export-oriented Slovenia has so far reported 286 confirmed cases of coronavirus, of which one person has died.

Slovenia's Interior Minister Ales Hojs told reporters that the government is also preparing a decree which will limit the number of people that can gather in public places to five.

The country has since Monday closed all schools and kindergartens, all public transport, hotels, bars, restaurants, sports centres and most shops, apart from those selling food.

Last week it limited the number of border crossings with Italy and introduced health checks there. All passenger air traffic has been cancelled since Tuesday.

Several companies, among them Slovenia's largest exporter Revoz, a unit of France's Renault, had to close due to lack of production parts.

Analysts estimate Slovenian companies could see their income fall by some 5 billion euros ($5.46 billion) this year as a result of the coronavirus epidemic. Slovenia's GDP was 48 billion euros in 2019, its national statistics office said.

The government's macroeconomic office UMAR expects GDP growth this year of 1.5%, providing that conditions stabilise in the second half of the year. The economy expanded by 2.4% last year. ($1 = 0.9153 euros) (Reporting by Marja Novak; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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