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COVID relief for informal sector - Cabbies, barbers, barmen in good standing to benefit

Published:Friday | March 27, 2020 | 12:28 AM

Some groups left reeling from the economic fallout of COVID-19 and its attendant social restrictions are in line to receive financial assistance.

A programme is being developed for taxi and bar operators, barbers, hairdressers, market vendors, and domestic workers, Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke revealed yesterday.

“We are working on a programme for this broad group of persons who may not be formally employed, and we have reserved a sum – we will be transferring a sum to address this segment – a sum which we can supplement with reallocation of expenditure,” Clarke said.

“The Government is going to give a grant to individuals that they are not entitled to, that they have not earned, but a grant due to the circumstances,” the finance minister explained, adding that registration authorities would help with verifications.

Clarke was speaking yesterday at a COVID-19 digital town hall focusing on workers and small businesses.

Spirit licences required

The finance minister said that those who have been “reasonably” up to date with their fees would be able to make an application. He disclosed that applicants would have to provide their tax registration numbers, photographs, and other documents.

In relation to bar operators, Clarke said that only those who have spirit licences or have evidence that they have applied for licences and paid the attendant fees will be able to access the Government’s assistance.

“The amount of the payment has not yet been determined, but it will just be something to offer support,” he said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said that policymakers would be moving to discuss whether those who breach the anti-COVID-19 protocols would be ineligible to receive the special grants.

Holness said that even as the Government moves to cushion the crushing effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, there would be gaps in the policy prescription and called for the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica to offer help.