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Jamaica Government To Begin Making Small Business Grant Payments Later This Month

Jamaica's Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. Nigel Clarke, speaking in the House of Representatives on May 12. Photo credit: Rudranath Fraser/JIS.

Jamaica Government To Begin Making Small Business Grant Payments Later This Month

KINGSTON, Jamaica, May 14, 2020 (CMC) – The Jamaica government says the payments of Small Business Grants will be made, during the month, as the authorities continue with the verification of applications.

Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. Nigel Clarke, announced that the government expects payments to be made in May.

The Small Business Grant is a component of the government’s coronavirus (COVID19) Allocation of Resources for Employees (CARE) Program, and Clarke said that the grants are for businesses that file income tax and payroll returns, indicating that they have, at least, one employee.

“Individual owners, who have no other employee other than themselves, can make a payroll return for themselves. The size of the Small Business Grant, at J$100,000, is a large sum, and was calibrated to be for businesses that employ other Jamaicans,” Clarke told legislators, on Tuesday.

“All small businesses, whether or not they employ others, are eligible for the Small Business Tax credit of J$375,000, introduced, for the first time, in March of this year. Small businesses that file taxes will not pay income taxes on their first $1.5 million earnings,” he added.

The government said eligibility verification activity for General Grant applicants is now in progress, through the collection of registrants’ data from the municipal corporations; Early Childhood Commission; Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport; Transport Authority and other Government bodies.

Clarke said that in some cases, the Auditor General’s Department is conducting a review/audit of data, before payments are actioned.

“It is expected that the verification activities will be completed in May, and eligible applicants will be notified, accordingly. Verification will include matching applicants against approved lists, received from the appropriate authorities, as well as verification of bank account information,” he said.

Barbers, hairdressers, beauty therapists, cosmetologists, taxi operators, bus operators and market vendors, who apply and qualify, will receive a one-time COVID-19 General Grant of $J25, 000. There is a one-time General Grant of $40,000 for bar operators and nightclub operators, who apply and qualify.

In addition, craft vendors and operators of the Jamaica Union of Travellers Association (JUTA), Maxi Tours Limited and Jamaica Co-operative Automobile and Limousine Tours Limited (JCAL), who apply and qualify, will receive a one-time General Grant of J$40,000.

Clarke said payments will begin shortly, under the Supporting Employees, with the Transfer of Cash (SET Cash) component of the program.

“The Auditor-General is currently reviewing the list of payees to confirm compliance with the defined eligibility rules, and the expectation is that payments will be authorised this week,” Clarke disclosed.

The SET Cash grant is for persons, who were terminated after March 10 and whose income is J$1.5 million or less.

“Processing is automatic and computer-generated. I would like to take this opportunity to remind employers to upload P45 forms for their employees. If employers put the termination date, prior to March 10, the system will automatically deem the application ineligible.

“The $1.5-million threshold exists, as the vast majority of affected employees in the tourism and other sectors have income, at or below, this threshold, and we are targeting the intervention to the majority, who are most vulnerable,” he added.

Clarke said that the J$1.5 million is assessed on gross income, which is calculated before gratuities.

“If the employer adds this [gratuity] to gross income and the amount exceeds the threshold, the application will be deemed ineligible. There is a separate space on the P45 to record gratuities,” Clarke told legislators.

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