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Editors' Forum | Applications for COVID-19 assistance open April 9

Published:Saturday | March 28, 2020 | 12:00 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer
Finance and the Public Service Minister Dr Nigel Clarke explains the Government’s COVID Allocation of Resources for Employees programmes at a Gleaner Editors’ Forum at the newspaper’s North Street headquarters yesterday.

Minister of Finance and the Public Service Dr Nigel Clarke has maintained that the Government’s approach to cushioning the impact of COVID-19 in Jamaica is to target those who are most affected.

COVID-19 has disrupted the income of many Jamaicans with the tourism sector being the hardest hit.

A call centre will be set up to field queries from prospective applicants of the COVID Allocation of Resources for Employees (CARE) programmes.

“We’re not going to be able to cover every single eventuality – that’s not going to be possible. It’s a diverse country with a very diverse set of circumstances,” Clarke said on Friday.

The finance minister was addressing journalists at a Gleaner Editors’ Forum at the newspaper’s North Street offices in Kingston.

On Tuesday, Clarke detailed the Holness administration’s $10-billion COVID contingency package to alleviate the harsh effects of the pandemic on Jamaicans. He announced the plan while making his closing presentation to the Budget Debate in Parliament.

Applications for payment under the programmes will open on April 9 and corroboration from employers will be crucial to the process.

“The challenge is just verification and we want to be in a position to report to the Jamaican people that those who have benefited are those who are deserving,”Clarke said.

Online applications

Online applications will be required for certain categories while those for craft vendors and market vendors are likely to have a manual format.

“For other categories, it might be necessary to have manual as well but we want the vast majority to be online because that allows for much greater accountability, much greater transparency and much better governance,” the finance minister said.

He explained that craft and market vendors who are in “good standing” with the municipal authorities are eligible for payments.

“Those individuals are registered with their municipal organisations, they have stall numbers and they are required to pay fees on a weekly basis,” he said, adding that they will be required to submit an application, a certified photograph, among other things.

Beneficiaries of the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) will receive an additional payment during the period April to June.

Benefits are provided under the Ministry of Labour and Social Security to children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with disabilities.

Families would usually receive two payments over the three-month term.

Clarke explained that the third payment will be equivalent to the usual payment and would redound to a 50 per cent increase in cash flow.

He said allocations for the period will be increased by $1.1 billion, to cover the more than 130,000 families registered under the programme.