The Government is developing protocols to facilitate the seamless collection of grants through remittance outlets by COVID Allocation of Resources for Employees (CARE) Programme applicants who selected this disbursement option.

Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, says these will be consistent with the social distancing and health protocols now in place as part of measures to curtail the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Jamaica.

“As the payments are made over the next several days… we will be announcing protocols for those persons who need to collect payments,” Dr. Clarke said, at Monday’s (April 27) COVID-19 digital press briefing, at the Office of the Prime Minister Media Centre.

Dr. Clarke said this approach is being taken because “if all the recipients of CARE grants were to descend on remittance [outlets] all at once… it would be inconsistent with social distancing and health protocols, and defeat the purpose of what we are trying to do to contain the COVID-19 spread”.

“Therefore, we will announce protocols for collections from remittance companies,” the Minister further indicated.

He advised that those arrangements are being finalised in consultation with the remittance companies that have been indicated in applications. The Government has received some 500,000 submissions for assistance under the $10-billion CARE Programme, a cash transfer intervention aimed at cushioning the economic impact of COVID-19 on businesses and individuals since applications opened on April 9.

Of this number, a combined 450,000 are for the compassionate grant and Supporting Employees with transfer of cash (SET Cash) components.

Some 390,000 persons have applied for the compassionate grant component, of which 350,000 were processed and verified up to Monday, April 27. A total of 60,000 applications have been received for the SET Cash so far. Dr. Clarke indicated during Monday’s briefing that arrangements are being finalised to commence payments this week. 

“In May, we will turn our attention to processing [applications for] the general grants, the small business grants, the tourism-related grants and the Business Employee Support and Transfer of Cash (BEST Cash) grants… and we will do so as speedily as possible,” he further advised.

Meanwhile, Dr. Clarke has assured that mechanisms have been put in place to safeguard the CARE Programme against unscrupulous persons with ulterior motives. He said that there are individuals who have been trying to access the online facility from overseas.

The Minister reiterated that the CARE Programme is intended to only alleviate the economic circumstances of persons resident in Jamaica.