Friday 5 June, 2020

Gov't to launch CARE Programme website tomorrow

Dr Nigel Clarke, Minister of Finance and the Public Service.

Dr Nigel Clarke, Minister of Finance and the Public Service.

Starting tomorrow, Thursday, April 9, Jamaica-based individuals and businesses will be able to begin applying under the COVID-19 Allocation of Resources for Employees (CARE) Programme for benefits when the website goes live online.

The programme is being launched by the Government of Jamaica (GOJ), through the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service (MOFPS), to offer financial assistance to Jamaica-based individuals and businesses across various sectors.

The website (www.wecare.gov.jm) presently hosts the brochure, however, as of Thursday, April 9, 2020 individuals and businesses will be able to apply for the various grants and relief packages through the site.

“The systems to deliver targeted intervention of this scale do not exist and had to be built from scratch. A multi-disciplinary team from the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, the Accountant General’s Department, Tax Administration Jamaica and eGov Jamaica Limited have been working around the clock to quickly build the required infrastructure. Our goal is for the online platform to be easy to use,” said Dr Nigel Clarke, Minister of Finance and the Public Service.

This temporary cash transfer programme is expected to assist with cushioning the economic impact that could be faced by individuals and businesses during the ongoing pandemic.

Seven components of the relief programme that are designed to reach the most affected sectors will be open for application online.

These include the COVID-19 General Grant, which is aimed at supporting persons who operate businesses registered either with a Municipal Authority, the Transport Authority or the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo).

Some components have a specific aim to support the operations of registered businesses in the tourism industry, namely the Business Employee Support and Transfer of Cash (BEST Cash) and the Tourism Grant which can also be applied for on the WECARE website.

Other programmes to be facilitated by online applications include Supporting Employees with Transfer of Cash (SET Cash), which will aid individuals who have been permanently or temporarily laid off on or after March 10, 2020; the COVID-19 Small Business Grant, which will support businesses in the MSME sector with sales of $50 million or less, and the COVID-19 Compassionate Grant, which is expected to assist the largest number of Jamaica-based individuals, including the informally employed, unemployed and tertiary students.

Applications open on April 9, 2020 and will close by June 30, 2020.

Beneficiaries are expected to receive their pay-outs within 30 days after application and confirmation that all eligibility requirements are met.

The grant value will be paid directly to the applicant’s bank account or to a remittance agency, as is applicable for the Compassionate Grant.

Funds will also be allocated to different agencies to boost existing programmes, including PATH where its beneficiaries will receive additional support through the COVID-19 PATH Grant whereas Student Loan Bureau (SLB) borrowers will be provided with a three-month deferral of loan principal and interest payments.

The Poor Relief Fund which targets the most vulnerable Jamaicans such as the homeless, elderly and the infirmed; the Constituency Development Fund (CDF); and the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries will also receive funds to support their respective sectors and will decide internally how to use the allocated funds.

“The CARE Programme is our way of showing that we care about every Jamaican, as we all play a role in the development and growth of this country. To the thousands of categories of workers who are the backbone of our economy; to our small business owners who employ several other citizens and to the poor and vulnerable in our society- we CARE and help is on the way,” Dr Clarke said.

The GOJ has assured that the CARE website is built with easy navigation in mind so that applicants will be able to find all the information they need before applying.

Additionally, potential applicants can view the requirements, eligibility, and benefit levels for all the listed grants in the brochure that is available for download on the CARE website (www.wecare.gov.jm) before applications open on April 9, 2020. Those with questions will be able to call the helpline at 888-4WE-CARE (888-493-2273).

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