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KINGSTON, Jamaica; March 18, 2020: Minister of Tourism, Hon Edmund Bartlett has been working with the Ministry of Finance and the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) to institute fiscal arrangements that will help to cushion the impact of COVID-19 on workers in the sector. The pandemic, whilst negatively impacting all sectors, has brought global tourism to a standstill.
“I want all workers in the sector to know that we are aware of the challenges and ripple effects of this pandemic as activities grind to a halt and questions surrounding job security arise. Based on these new developments, I have been in discussion with my colleague Minister of Finance and the JHTA to iron out a plan of action to help safeguard all our workers, over the last several weeks,” said Minister Bartlett.
Already, the Government is in short order 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.
“I am appealing to all workers in the sector to remain safe by following the hygienic protocols we have laid out and to listen to credible news reports to get the necessary updates to stay abreast of the situation,” added Minister Bartlett.
Minister Bartlett noted that he and senior members of his team have been in touch with all key stakeholders here and overseas and will maintain in contact as part of his efforts to work together to find the best possible solutions to lessen the impact on the sector.