Op-ed by Žikica Milošević
The group of Chinese doctors came to Serbia couple of days ago and said the minimum time for stopping the Covid-19 virus is 29 days, if all the measures are to be implemented. If there is not enough discipline, it could be longer, but the 20th of April should be our aim. Together with the use of meds, UV rays that supposedly kill the virus and the herd immunity, it could effectively curb the virus, and kill it entirely around the 20th of May. In the meantime, the Olympics have been postponed.
THE CURSE OF THE OLYMPICS
There is apparently some curse over the Olympics, happening every 40 years. The great Olympics in Athens in 1896 were followed by a very bad ones, in 1900 in Paris, when they were part of the World’s Fair and looked like a fairground: 72% of athletes were domestic, and there were “sports” that had nothing to do with sports: pigeon race, balloon flying, stick fishing, cannon firing, kite flying, etc. At that time, they did not even hand over any medals. Even worse happened in St. Louis in 1904, when again, it was an even worse fair in the World Exhibition, only now the American fair, more spectacular. In 1908, London was chosen to bring back the seriousness of the Games because the British codified many sports and were considered to be the most sobering nation of the era. A similar thing happened 40 years later: the 1940 Games in Tokyo and 1944 in London were not even held, because of the war. The next 40 years later, the games in Moscow and Los Angeles were “flawed” because the former did not involve a US team with allies (66 countries) including Canada, Argentina, West Germany, Turkey, Norway, but also those who rebelled against intervention in Afghanistan: China, Iran, etc. and the latter boycotted 19 countries, again superpowers in sports: the USSR, GDR, Czechoslovakia, Cuba … Forty years later, in 2020, it looked like the only drawback would be a shortage of Russian athletes, but the “curse of the forties” struck again in Tokyo. this time because of the coronavirus. And in 2024 there must be an ace up his sleeve. See you in 2021 in Tokyo.
THE NEW MARSHALL PLAN
The Spanish Prime Minister called for a “New Marshall Plan”, thus effectively levelling the crisis to the World War II. It is definitely worse than the World Economic Crisis from 2008. Politika daily mentions that Deutsche Bank has published an analysis according to which this will be the biggest crisis since 1930. In Europe, demand fell between 15 and 30 percent, while during the 2008 crisis it averaged 20 percent. In China, the overall industry’s decline is 37.91 percent. Recovering from this crisis is not going to be easy, which is why all countries are preparing large amounts of aid, which are worth hundreds of billions of euros. The proposal of the American Chamber of Commerce, sent to the Government of Serbia for maintaining employment and faster recovery after the crisis, is good and a new set of measures should go in this direction. This association proposes to reduce taxes and contributions in the event of absence from work by up to 30 days due to the coronavirus. Then tax and contribution relief during the lockdown are also included. Then, in order to ensure the liquidity of the companies, they propose a 50 percent reduction on the 2020 corporate income tax advance for legal entities and entrepreneurs, with annual payments next year.
NALED also sent to the government proposals such as temporary tax cuts and wage contributions or deferred payment for small businesses and the most vulnerable sectors. Then, providing cheap government-backed business loans, as well as paying one-off financial aid to vulnerable companies and citizens who lose their jobs. NALED proposes the introduction of extended maternity leave and vouchers for childcare assistance to help working parents get through school closures more easily. The list of measures includes tax exemption and contributions in the first year of business for lump-sum entrepreneurs to encourage self-employment. But also establishing a financial support fund for the cities and municipalities most affected by the epidemic. Measures taken so far include a break in the repayment of 90-day loans to businesses and citizens. The National Bank of Serbia has lowered its benchmark interest rate to help the economy, allowing cheap loans. The Serbian government has passed a regulation requiring employers to allow employees to work from home and earn full income for it. It is not nearly enough. The baristas and restaurant and cafeteria owners want the same as Russia does: no rent, payments for the employees, and freezing the taxes until the normal situation. That should be a minimum, not a maximum. A maximum should be something of a stimulus. Like in the USA, where President Trump proposed $1 billion of bailout, but the plan was rejected because the Democrats think that it is biased towards the big businesses, and not sufficiently centred around the “ordinary man and SMEs”. We expect the corrections in the bill and passing of the new, bipartisan bill.
THE LOCKED WORLD
In the meantime, the UK Government decided to implement the harsher measures, giving up its “shiny happy” plan for the heard immunity. PM Boris Johnson locked parks, pubs, churches and theatres. South Africa delared lockdown and thousands started to flee into Botswana, where there are no cases. But they all end up in quarantines. The whole world in locked. Except for China and Asia. In South Korea and China, the life comes back to normalcy, the children are getting back to school. It is the future of all of us.
But like in the Boyle’s film, it will help 28 days later. It is not a zombie apocalypse, but we will be equally thrilled when it ends. Remember the faces of the people when some disasters ended in films. That will be our faces.