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KINGSTON, Jamaica; March 27, 2020: Minister of Tourism, Hon Edmund Bartlett has met with craft vendors, one of the key subsector groups in tourism, to discuss strategies to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on their businesses.
“With the closure of our borders and general measures instituted to reduce the spread of the disease, tourism has come to a halt leaving many workers and businesses displaced.
In my meeting yesterday, held via teleconference, with heads of various craft associations, i had fruitful discussions on the way forward and highlighted some of the financial arrangements being put in place to help these vendors,” said Minister Bartlett.
The Minister has also had meetings with travel agents and the transportation subsector to discuss strategies to help reduce the impact of COVID-19 on their businesses as well.
The island’s tourism has come to a halt following restrictive measures to help reduce the spread of the disease.
“I am aware of the severe difficulties being encountered by our suppliers and recently devised, with my colleague Minister of Finance, a grant of 1.2 billion dollars to businesses operating in tourism and related sectors,” said Minister Bartlett.
In addition to this grant, the government has been implementing fiscal actions to cushion the economic impact of Covid-19. These include:
· Discussions with commercial banks for them to provide temporary cash-flow
· support to businesses and consumers in affected sectors through deferral of principal payments, new lines of credit and other measures
· Introduction of the Covid Allocation of Resources for Employees (CARE) programme which has four elements:
a. Introduction of the Business Employee Support and Transfer of Cash (BEST Cash) – which will provide temporary cash transfer to businesses in targeted sectors based on the number of workers they keep employed.
b. Supporting Employees with Transfer of Cash (SET Cash ) – which will provide temporary cash transfer to individuals where it can be verified that they lost their employment since March 10, (the date of the first Covid case in Jamaica) due to the Covid virus and this will be available for a specific period.
c. Special soft loan fund to assist individuals and businesses that have been hard hit.
d. Supporting the poor and vulnerable with special Covid related grants.
Minister Bartlett added that, “This is a unique time as we all grapple with this novel pandemic but together we are working to come up with the best possible solutions to ensure we recover.”