The nation’s leader and Hon Minister for Finance, Roosevelt Skerrit says his government is taking a measured approach to dealing with the financial and economic consequences of Covid19.
This approach, Hon Skerrit said in a Sunday night address is based on the impending 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season.
He unveiled a highly-anticipated package of measures to help businesses to cope and to cushion the hit to families dealing with the financial losses.
The Hon Prime Minister detailed these initiatives even as government deals with a decline in state revenues due to the pandemic which required everyone to stay at home and shutter businesses to prevent the spread of the illness.
The data shows that although most large employers have kept their full staff, at least 2,082 individuals have lost their jobs in the tourism sector alone due to the pandemic.
This is why Hon Skerrit says a grant will be disbursed to families for an initial 3-month period beginning April.
This grant comes from Government through the Dominica Social Security which will handle disbursement.
A 2% interest loan which was established for businesses to recover from Hurricane Maria back in 2017 has been adjusted to allow hotel and tourism debtors access to financing with a grace period of a year and no interest for six months.
This means that those enterprises can use their own resources to pay staff without the added burden of loan prepayments.
A new $5m loan facility will become available from Friday. May 22nd to allow micro and small businesses like manufacturers, bus drivers, barbers, those in the tourism sector and others to access funds at an interest rate of 1%.
This loan, for up to $15,000 comes with a six month grace period and will be disbursed by the AID Bank.
He emphasised that government wishes to give even more support but has to be prudent on the cusp of the hurricane season which officially begins in two weeks.
Other highlights in this address include:
- Almost $22m spent on Covid19 response
- State revenue decreased by as much as 34% in some areas
- Tax penalties waived for businesses partnering with Government
- Increased budget for agriculture
- Grants for farmers to engage field labourers
- $3m secured to purchase produce from farmers
- Registration drive to be launched for construction professionals to work on Government projects
- 88% of large employers retained all staff; 2,082 lost jobs in tourism industry
- Unemployed heads of households to get support grants of $400 -$600
- Concessionary imports for hotels and businesses
- Reduction in tax for businesses
- 0% duties on imports for sanitization, personal protection and disinfection for businesses
- Social programmes will be maintained
- Fund launched for contributions from Dominicans overseas
- Public servants could be cut if Covid impact persists
- Barbers, nail shops, salons, massage parlours, spas can now operate. Appointments only
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit Address to the Nation – 17th May, 2020
Posted by Roosevelt Skerrit on Sunday, May 17, 2020