Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr Nigel Clarke, announced what he described as the  “largest fiscal stimulus in Jamaica’s history”.

He made the announcement on Tuesday March 17 in a statement in the House of Representatives. The stimulus package is meant to mitigate against the expected negative impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on Jamaica's economy.

According to Clarke, “Pumping $25 billion into the economy at a time of uncertainty like this helps to support economic activity in Jamaica.”

According to Loop News, 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 will also be a special soft loan fund to assist individuals and businesses who/which have been hit hard by the problems associated with the virus. There will also be a  COVID-19 related grant for people in need, especially the poor and vulnerable.

The details relating to implementation of the stimulus plan will be available to the public next Tuesday.

Other interventions include the waiver of the Special Consumption Tax (SCT) on 100,000 litres of alcohol to be used to make hand sanitisers. The sanitisers are to be given to the National Health Fund (NHF) and the Ministry of Health.

The following are also to be implemented:

1) Customs Duty to be waived on the importation of mask, hand sanitisers, gloves and liquid hand soaps for 90 days.

2) Companies engaged in the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector are to be allowed to move equipment off site to allow working from home by employees.

3) Discussions are under way with commercial banks with a view of ensuring cash flow support to businesses and consumers in affected sectors through deferral of principal payments, through new lines of credit and other measures.

Clarke noted that COVID-19 has, within a relatively short time, “significantly, sharply and suddenly curtailed economic activity around the world.

“In economic terms, the Covid crisis will certainly have adverse economic implications for the world and indeed, for Jamaica,” he said. Source: Loop News

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