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Australia unveils $11-bn stimulus to curb Coronavirus, avert recession

Australia's economy had already been limping before the coronavirus hit -- with raging bushfires and drought slowing growth to a stall

Coronavirus | recession | Australia

AFP | PTI  |  Sydney 

South Korean soldiers in protective gear sanitize a street at a shopping district in Seoul. Reuters

on Thursday unveiled a massive $11 billion spending plan designed to curb the economic impact of the pandemic and avert the country's first in 29 years.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the nearly Aus$18 billion package -- equivalent to just under one percent of -- which will primarily be targeted at businesses.

"This plan is about keeping Australians in jobs. This plan is about keeping a business in business," said Morrison. "This plan is about ensuring the Australian bounces back stronger on the other side of this." Much of the money is expected to be distributed by the end of June, the country's treasurer said.

has seen 136 confirmed cases of coronavirus, and three deaths. Morrison acknowledged the stimulus would mean he will not meet an election pledge to balance the country's budget -- a key plank of the party's pitch to voters last year.

Australia's had already been limping before the hit -- with raging bushfires and drought slowing growth to a stall.

The central bank has repeatedly cut rates to historic lows while warning that the outbreak could have "large and long-lasting" effects.

Morrison had on Wednesday announced a separate $1.6 billion war chest to bolster medical services that are likely to come under intense strain as the virus spreads in the coming months.

He is expected to make a rare televised address to the country later on Thursday to speak about the broader challenges faced by the COVID-19 outbreak.

First Published: Thu, March 12 2020. 06:56 IST