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    • Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, has announced that persons with disabilities who are having challenges accessing the benefits of the COVID Allocation of Resources for Employees (CARE) programme, will be given special consideration.
    • The Government has instituted a multibillion-dollar COVID Allocation of Resources for Employees (CARE) programme to assist workers and businesses during the emergency period caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19).

    Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, has announced that persons with disabilities who are having challenges accessing the benefits of the COVID Allocation of Resources for Employees (CARE) programme, will be given special consideration.

    Addressing the House of Representatives on April 28, the Minister said $40 million will be transferred to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security to provide support to the community of persons living with disabilities.

    “While some persons living with disabilities have signed up for and will benefit from compassionate grants, others within this group experience unique challenges that make it difficult for them to sign up online, to have an ID, to go to a bank to collect, so we have to accommodate them and ensure that they are included and have a parallel mechanism, while ensuring that we don’t have persons who are double-dipping,” he said.

    The Government has instituted a multibillion-dollar COVID Allocation of Resources for Employees (CARE) programme to assist workers and businesses during the emergency period caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19).

    Dr. Clarke pointed out that further details on how persons with disabilities will access the benefits will be outlined by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, noting that persons will be required to provide a Tax Registration Number (TRN).

    Meanwhile, he said the Ministry is also working with members of the Household Workers Union to assist members who had been terminated after March 10, due to COVID-19.

    He argued that the development, deployment and execution of the CARE programme is another demonstration that the public sector is “nimble, agile and responsive”.

    The Minister also recognised Southern Global Services which has supplied customer care services to the CARE project, free of charge.

    Dr. Clarke informed that as at noon on April 28, a total of 496,962 applications were received for the CARE programme.

    The breakdown includes 225 applications for the Business Employee and Transfer of Cash (Best Cash) Programme, relating to 19,809 employees; 63,346 applications for the Supporting Employees with Transfer (SET) Cash component of the programme; 26,987 applications for the general grant; 4,114 applications for small business grant; and 402,290 applications for the compassionate grant.

    In the meantime, Dr. Clarke told the House that applicants of the CARE Programme have started to receive automated text messages or emails to confirm the status of their application.

    He said applicants can also track the status of their application and update their banking information by visiting the website www.wecare.gov.jm. Applicants with questions can contact (888) 493-2273.

    Dr. Clarke noted that for the compassionate grant, as at noon on April 28, a total of 344,191 or 85 per cent of the applications received have, so far, been validated as eligible, and the eligible beneficiaries have been notified by text message or email.

    He said the validation for the SET cash component has been slower with 9,161 applicants validated, to date. He explained that the slower response of employers in uploading P45 forms to the TAJ portal was the main reason for the slower validation rate.

    “We are working assiduously towards commencing payment for the compassionate grants and the SET cash component of the CARE Programme during this month for some persons, and for others it will be during the first week of May,” the Minister pointed out.

    “These payments will be effected through the utilisation of the Contingencies Fund. Payments for the other components of the programme are slated to commence in May 2020 after passage of the first supplementary estimates for the financial year 2020/21,” Dr. Clarke added.

    He said compassionate and SET cash grants account for 90 per cent of applications and are being processed and paid first. “We will follow up quickly with the processing of applications for the general grants, small business grants and BEST Cash grants shortly after in May,” he noted.

    Dr. Clarke explained that applicants who collect the compassionate grants at a remittance company will be required to produce the application reference number, and a government-issued ID.

    “We are strongly encouraging remittance companies that have banks to use this opportunity to have compassionate grant beneficiaries open bank accounts. This CARE programme highlights one of the major changes and improvements that we have to make in our society and to ensure that more Jamaicans have identification, bank accounts and access to the Internet,” he said.

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