Australia Flags ‘Targeted’ Stimulus as Coronavirus Hits Economy
(Bloomberg) -- Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison indicated the government is considering targeted stimulus for sectors of the economy most severely impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.
Treasury’s advice is that any stimulus should be “targeted, modest and scalable,” Morrison said in a televised interview with Channel Nine Friday.
The tourism and education sectors have been particularly hit by the outbreak, with the government announcing yesterday that a ban on people traveling from mainland China will be extended by another week. The travel restrictions have left thousands of Chinese students, a key source of income for Australian universities, locked out of the country just as the academic year begins.
The fallout from the virus could cost the tourism industry A$2 billion a month, according to a report to be released Friday by the Tourism Transport Forum, the Australian Financial Review reported.
With the economy set to take a “significant” hit from the virus, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is walking back the government’s commitment to return the budget to surplus.
Morrison yesterday said that the risk of a pandemic was “very much upon us” and activated emergency measures that will allow health screening at borders and stockpiling of medical equipment.
Morrison has sought to reassure Australians that containment processes were working. All 15 patients directly related to Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak in China, have made full recoveries, while eight more cases linked to the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan are still being monitored.
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