Aus offers support for bushfire-affected businesses

International | Written by : IANS| Updated:

Aus offers support for bushfire-affected businesses

Canberra, Jan 20 (IANS) The Australian government on Monday announced a support package for small businesses affected by the raging bushfires.

rime Minister Scott Morrison, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Michaelia Cash, Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business announced the "comprehensive suite of measures to immediately support impacted small businesses", reports Xinhua news agency.

The support package includes low-interest loans of up to A$500,000 ($343,751) to businesses that lost significant assets in fires that have devastated much of the country since last September.

Businesses and organizations damaged by fires will also be eligible to receive grants of up to A$50,000 ($34,375) tax-free.

"This comprehensive package will make it easier for those who have suffered direct fire damage, or have been indirectly economically impacted following the bushfires, to get back on their feet," Morrison, Frydenberg and Cash said in a joint statement.

The government will spend A$3.5 million ($2.4 million) to establish a Small Business Bushfire Financial Support Line, which will be tasked with ensuring that relief is delivered where it is needed most.

The support package was announced after the government consulted with business leaders, including Peter Strong, chief executive of the Council of Small Business Organizations.

Since September 2019, the blazes have killed 29 people, destroyed more than 80,000 square km, an area larger than Ireland or Panama, charring more than 2,000 houses.

Up to 1 billion animals, mainly mammals, birds and reptiles, are estimated to have been affected by the devastating fires, according to Australian ecologists.