KINGSTON, Jamaica – According to Jamaica’s Minister of Finance, the government is prepared to offer a $25-billion fiscal stimulus package to cushion the impact of the coronavirus on businesses and workers.
What is being describes as “the largest fiscal stimulus in Jamaica’s history”, Clarke said that “pumping $25 billion into the economy at a time of uncertainty like this helps to support economic activity in Jamaica.”
He said the Government is to introduce what it calls a CARE programme for affected employees. The programme has several elements, including a business employees’ support programme which is to provide temporary cash transfers to businesses in targeted sectors. The amount each entity is to get will be based on the number of its workers who are kept in employment.
The Administration is also to implement a ‘supporting employees in the transfer of cash programme’ to provide temporary cash transfers to individuals where it can be verified that they lost their employment as a result of the COVID-19 crisis in Jamaica. This measure is to remain in place for a specific time.
Additionally, there is to be a special soft loan fund to assist individuals and businesses who/which have been hit hard by the problems associated with the virus.
And there is also to be support for the poor and vulnerable by way of COVID-19 related grants.
Clarke said the details relating to implementation and accountability of these programmes are being finalised, and are to be announced next week.
Meanwhile, Clarke said other measures to assist the economy to stay afloat include the 1.5 per cent cut in the General Consumption Tax (GCT) to 15 per cent, which is to put back $14 billion in the hands of consumers and support consumption.
As the COVID-19 precautionary measures increase, many businesses have been forced closed, and major events cancelled or postponed, putting a strain from the smallest of businesses to major industries on the island.