350,000 Jamaicans to receive new grants under CARE programme
Approximately 350,000 Jamaicans are expected to benefit from new grants under the Government’s COVID Allocation of Resources for Employees (CARE) Programme 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.
This was announced 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 said, 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.
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 informed that an automatic one-off grant of $10,000 will be provided to all heads of the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH)-beneficiary households.
“That is, the CARE Programme 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 programme initiative,” Dr. Clarke informed.
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 Programme 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 Programme, which was launched by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness in July.
The programme 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 Programme, 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 Programme forms part of the Social and Economic Recovery and Vaccine (SERVE) Jamaica Programme, which will be the foundation for the country’s economic revival.
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