KINGSTON, Jamaica (Thursday, October 14, 2021) — Approximately 350,000 Jamaicans are expected to benefit from new grants, under the government’s COVID-19 Allocation of Resources for Employees (CARE) Program, which is being expanded with a further budgetary allocation of $5.3 billion.
Over a period of six months, one-off grants, ranging from $10,000 to $18,000, will be provided for vulnerable persons, in six categories, at a total cost of $3.75 billion.
The announcement was made by Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. Nigel Clarke, who reiterated the government’s commitment to “put more resources in people’s hands” as economic conditions improve.
“The interventions…have to be targeted to those, who need it most. Everyone is affected but, in the interest of social cohesion, the government is assisting those, who are most in need,” Dr. Clarke cautioned, as he opened the debate on the first Supplementary Estimates of Expenditure for the 2021-22 fiscal year in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (October 12).
Outlining the various targeted social assistance, which will be carried out by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, in collaboration with the Finance Ministry, Dr. Clarke explained that an automatic one-off grant of $10,000 will be provided to all heads of the Program of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH)-beneficiary households.
“That is, the CARE Program will provide approximately 130,000 such grants at a total cost of $1.3 billion. This expenditure is automatic; there is no need to apply,” he pointed out.
A similar automatic one-off $10,000 grant will also be provided for National Insurance Scheme (NIS) pensioners, who are in receipt of an NIS pension, being paid at a rate of $10,000 a month or less.
“There are about 57,000 pensioners in this category. The total cost of this grant is expected to be approximately $570 million,” Dr. Clarke informed.
An automatic one-off grant of $10,000 will be paid to all employees, who are on the Pay as You Earn (PAYE) system, and who earn less than, or equal to, $15,000 a week (gross) or 60,000 per month (gross).
“We have to look out for those at the bottom of the scale; those patriotic Jamaicans, who play by the rules, who hold down a job, who pay their statutory deductions, and for whom COVID and the increases in prices have made things a little more difficult,” Dr. Clarke said.
In addition, all self-employed persons, whose statutory income is less than, or equal to, $60,000 per month will also benefit from a $10,000 one-off payment.
“We expect to make payments to approximately 130,000 persons, who meet these threshold requirements and, therefore, we are allocating $1.3 billion for this CARE program initiative,” Dr. Clarke elaborated.
As the government has no database of the bank accounts of persons in this category, they will have to apply, through the CARE portal, giving their information and providing a bank account or a remittance agency, where they can be paid.
Unemployed persons, who had previously received grants under the Supporting Employees with Transfer of Cash (SET Cash) component and who remain out of work as of September 30, 2021, will benefit from an automatic one-off payment of $18,000.
The SET Cash component of the CARE Program caters to employees, who have either been laid off or had their jobs terminated, as of March 10, 2020, due to economic challenges resulting from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“We are making provisions to be in a position to provide grants to 35,000 such persons and, therefore, we are allocating $670 million for this,” the Finance Minister said.
Automatic one-off $10,000 payments will also be made to beneficiaries of the government’s $800 million Social Pension Program, which was launched by Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, in July.
The program provides a guaranteed income for vulnerable persons, 75 years and older. Seniors targeted are those not currently in receipt of a pension, disability benefit or other retirement benefits; cash grants from PATH or the Poor Relief Program, and who do not reside in a government institutional care facility.
“There are approximately 5,000 persons enrolled so far….and everybody, who qualifies for a social pension, will automatically receive (the payment) at a cost of $50 million,” Dr. Clarke said.
The CARE Program forms part of the Social and Economic Recovery and Vaccine (SERVE) Jamaica Program, which will be the foundation for the country’s economic revival.