London: The British government will provide 330 billion pounds (about 399 billion US dollars) of loans to businesses to support firms to get through the difficult moments as the coronavirus outbreak escalates in the country, said the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak on Tuesday.
Sunak told a daily press conference that "if demand is greater than the initial 330 billion pounds, I'm making it available today, I will go further and provide as much capacity as required. I said whatever it takes, and I meant it."
The announcement came just six days after the British government last Wednesday pledged a 30-billion-pound stimulus plan to shore up the country's economy amid the COVID-19 outbreak in its first post-Brexit budget.
In Tuesday's press briefing, Sunak said: "Some sectors are facing particularly acute challenges. In the coming days, my colleague the Secretary of State for Transport and I will discuss a potential support package specifically for airlines and airports."
Suffering from the rapid spread of COVID-19 and government travel restrictions, British airlines have announced new actions to address the negative impact, including cutting sharply flights in the coming weeks and reducing operating expenses, as they urged the government to give substantial emergency supports.
In the joint press conference, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that "we must do whatever it takes to support the economy", adding that "this a time to be bold, to have courage. We will support jobs, we will support incomes, we will support businesses... We will do whatever it takes."
In addition to the enormous financial support package promised Tuesday, Sunak also pledged to provide funding grants of up to 25,000 pounds for small businesses.
Meanwhile, "every single shop, pub, theatre, music venue, restaurant... will pay no business rates for 12 months", said Sunak.
On the same day, British Treasury and the Bank of England announced a Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) to offer additional help for firms to bridge through COVID 19-related disruption to their cash flows.
"The CCFF will provide funding to businesses by purchasing commercial paper of up to one-year maturity, issued by firms making a material contribution to the UK economy," said a statement, adding that "it will help businesses across a range of sectors to pay wages and suppliers, even while experiencing severe disruption to cashflows."
"Taken together the actions announced by HM Treasury and the Bank of England will help UK businesses and households to bridge a temporarily difficult period and thereby to mitigate any longer-lasting effects of COVID-19 on jobs, growth and the UK economy," said the statement.
As of March 17, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Britain has risen to 1,950, with a death toll of 71.
Following intensive review, the British government has stepped up measures to fight COVID-19 on Monday, the British prime minister called on people to stop non-essential contact with others and to stop all unnecessary travel.