Founding partner of law firm Bragard, Jean Jacques Bragard, gives us his insight on the different measures Uruguay has taken since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis.
Leaders League. How well do you think your government is reacting to the Covid-19 virus?
Jean Jacques Bragard. Very well. They acted quickly, transparently and with clear leadership. There was daily communication through press conferences clearly conveying the situation and emergency health measures were adopted at the very begining.
Likewise, a specific app was introduced allowing the government to remain close to citizens and thus provide the necessary health provisions.
What are the main measures the government has implemented to help entrepreneurs?
Deferred tax payment due dates for small and medium companies… special unemployment insurance in order to allow part time work while the state partially covers salaries (until 31th May)… soft loans from the state bank and state agencies.
And to assist the more vulnerable members of the population?
A bond was granted to make purchasing basic food products possible for the most vulnerable sections of society. The credit amount available under the Uruguay Social Cards scheme, that benefits 87,000 households, was doubled. The number of shelters available for homeless people over 65 was increased. A coronavirus fund was created to help with social and health aspects was made available to all the population, financed with a percentage of higher public salaries, among others. A contingency center was built to serve vulnerable people. Grants and subsidies for small tax payers covering a period of two months benefitted 10,000 people.
Which industries or sectors are suffering the most? And which ones do you think have been handed an opportunity by the current situation?
Those suffering and tourism, hotels, transport, travel agencies, restaurantes, sport & entretainment and construction. The ones with an opportunity are online business, delivery, E-commerce and software.
Is there any measures that banks are taking concerning credit in Uruguay? Is there anything we can do at bank level or with bank regulation to help the country get through this difficult period?
The Central Bank has established some interim measures. The most relevant are: a) reduction of the legal reserve required from credit institutions; b) reduction of capital requirements concerning credit risk; c) extension of terms for payment of credit to up to 180 days. Private banks and state banks are deferring the terms of payment with the agreement of clients.
In two sentences, what this sui generis crisis has taught you
There was plenty space to gain in efficiency in the way law firms work. The industry has discovered new ways of working and commuting.