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Finance Minister details COVID assistance programme

Published:Tuesday | March 24, 2020 | 12:00 AM
Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke says the government will not be subsidising profits of businesses.

Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke has announced a major programme for several sectors affected by COVID-19.

The programme has been dubbed the COVID Allocation of Resources for Employees (CARE) programme.

However, according to Clarke, the government will not be subsidising profits of businesses.

"We will subsidise people but it is not reasonable to expect the Government to subsidise profits," the minister told Parliament Tuesday said.

Here are the key details announced by the minister today:

1. Business Employee Support and Transfer of Cash (BEST Cash): This will provide temporary cash transfers to registered businesses in the hotel, tours, and attractions industries based on the number of workers under the $1.5 million income tax threshold who they keep employed. The businesses must be licensed by the Jamaica Tourist Board.

2.  Each tax-paying employee in the tourist sector with an income less than $1.5 million a year will receive $9,000 per fortnight by direct bank transfer through their company. This will apply to the months of April, May and June. This will amount to a total of $54,000.

3. The Supporting Employees with Transfer of Cash (SET Cash) programme will also provide temporary cash transfers to individuals from any sector where it can be verified that they lost their employment since March 10 when the first COVID case was confirmed here. Applications open on April 9.

4.  Labour Ministry allocated $1 billion in additional funding to help the informally employed who are affected

5.  PATH beneficiaries would ordinarily receive a payment in April and then in June. They will, however, be getting a special payment in May.

6. All small businesses with sales of up to $50 million who filed taxes in the fiscal year just ending and who filed payroll returns indicating they have employees, will be eligible for a one-time COVID Small Business grant of $100,000.  Some  $1.2 billion set aside for this.

7. Local Government Ministry allocated $150 million to supplement the Poor Relief programme.

8. Reallocation of Agriculture Ministry’s budget to provide $200 million for relief to small farmers.

SLB payments deferred

Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke has told the Parliament that the Students’ Loan Bureau will waive late fees and defer repayments for all loans, principals, and interest for three months.

This will be for the period April to June of this year.

The value of this proposed measure is $800 million, the minister said.

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