350,000 Jamaicans to Benefit under CARE Programme

Roughly 350,000 Jamaicans will 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.

Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. Nigel Clarke, noted that over 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 Minister emphasized that the Government is committed to putting more resources in people’s hands as economic conditions improve.

In his opening of debate on the first Supplementary Estimates of Expenditure for the 2021-22 fiscal year in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, October 12, Minister Clarke says though everyone is affected in the interest of social cohesion, the Government is assisting those who are most in need.

The Minister outlined the different targeted social assistance, set to be done by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security in collaboration with the Finance Ministry. Dr. Clarke notified that all heads of the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH)-beneficiary households will receive an automatic one-off grant of $10,000.

“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 one-off $10,000 grant will also be given for National Insurance Scheme (NIS) pensioners, who receive a 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.

In addition, all self-employed persons, whose legal salary is less than or equal to $60,000 per month will also benefit from a $10,000 one-off payment, as well as a 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 or 60,000 per month.

Dr. Clarke noted that the Government is targeting those at the bottom of the scale; patriotic Jamaicans who play by the rules, who hold down a job, who pay their statutory deductions, and for whom the COVID-19 pandemic and the increases in prices have made things a little more difficult.

“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.

Unemployed persons, who had received grants under the Supporting Employees with Transfer of Cash (SET Cash) component prior and who remain out of work as of September 30, 2021, will profit 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.

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 recovery.