Jamaica News: All transactions and procedures under the Government’s $10-billion COVID Allocation of Resources for Employees (CARE) Programme will be transparent and secure.
This is being done through a rigorous verification exercise in which the Government has been engaged since Friday (April 24), and is in addition to other security measures in place.
The CARE Programme aims to provide financial assistance to workers and businesses impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic. The package involves the temporary transfer of cash to individuals and businesses to cushion the pandemic’s economic impact.
Eligible applicants were required to submit identifying information, such as their name, taxpayer registration number (TRN), phone number, as well as information about their bank accounts. Payments will be made automatically to the bank accounts, once those have been validated.
According to Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, the verification process is necessary for the transparency and accountability of the Programme.
“These are taxpayer funds and there has to be an audit trail that establishes that the applicant was indeed employed and has been terminated,” he said, while addressing a recent digital press conference.
The Minister was speaking to a specific component of the Programme – the Supporting Employees with Transfer of Cash (SET Cash) Grant – which provides financial assistance to employees who have been laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under this component, the validation of applications will include verification of employment before March 10 through statutory deductions that were filed on behalf of the employee. The employer will be required to provide a P45 form with the names and taxable incomes of all persons temporarily laid off or terminated, without which the Government will be unable to disburse the funds.
“For an individual to be eligible for payment of a SET Cash grant, the former employer who effected the lay-off or the termination, will have to upload a P45 form to the website of Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ). That P45 form will [provide] evidence that the applicant was employed prior to the 10th of March, and the applicant has been terminated after the 10th of March,” he explained.
Dr. Clarke further advised that where a P45 form does not exist for a particular applicant, or a particular TRN, that applicant will be advised by computer-generated text that the P45 has not been uploaded and will be encouraged to contact their employer about the matter.
The Minister noted, however, that this level of meticulousness will also apply to the other seven components of the Programme.
More than 500,000 applications have been received since the Programme opened online on April 9, and are currently being verified and processed.
Dr. Clarke further informed that the verification process also involves establishing the eligibility of each applicant for the CARE product for which they apply, and also verifying that the bank account that exists is an eligible account.
“For… all applications to the CARE Programme, we want to make sure that the bank accounts that have been submitted are verifiable bank accounts. That is, the bank account is in the name of the applicant for the CARE product,” the Minister noted.
“Where there is a difference between the name of the applicant and the name of the bank account that has been submitted, there will be a computer-generated text message that advises the applicant that a discrepancy exists and the applicant will be able to log on through the www.wecare.gov.jm website with their TRN and their application number and you’ll be able to update your financial institution information,” he added.
Verification will also ensure that the applicant’s TRN does not appear on any current employee payroll database in the possession of the TAJ.
The Minister assured that the CARE Programme will also be in touch with employers across all the sectors – hotels, attractions, aviation, ground transportation, tours, restaurants, fast food, manufacturing, retail, early-childhood education institutions, and others, to ensure that employers upload the P45 form, so that workers can benefit.
Turning to the matter of individuals attempting to apply for the CARE programme overseas, Dr. Clarke emphasised that the Programme is meant to alleviate the economic circumstances of persons resident in Jamaica and is not accessible to those overseas.
“That also protects us from those who would have nefarious intent who live all around the world and would see a programme such as this as something to try and attack using cyber tools,” he said.
The other components of the Programme, which is intended to assist the society’s most vulnerable citizens impacted by COVID-19, are the Business Employee Support and Transfer of Cash (BEST Cash), which provides temporary cash transfers to registered businesses operating within the tourism industry who are registered with the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo); and the COVID-19 General Grants, which provide one-time payments to support persons who operate businesses registered with a Municipal Authority, the TPDCo or the Transport Authority.
In addition, there are the COVID-19 Compassionate Grants, which are available for the unemployed, the marginally or informally employed, the elderly, and students older than 18, provided that that they have not applied for and are not in receipt of any other direct cash benefit under the CARE Programme; and the COVID-19 PATH Grants, which provide additional support to beneficiaries currently enrolled under the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH).
The remaining components are the COVID-19 Small Business Grants to support small businesses in all sectors that have sales of $50 million or less, which filed taxes for 2019, including payroll returns; COVID-19 Tourism Grants for businesses operating in the tourism sector, inclusive of hotels, attractions and tours, which are registered with the TPDCo; and COVID-19 Student Loan Relief, which provides a deferral of student loan principal and interest payments for three months (until July 2020) for loans outstanding to the Student Loan Bureau (SLB). The COVID-19 Student Loan Relief automatically applies to all persons repaying student loans to the SLB.
Source: JIS News