Govt mulls another countrywide Covid-19 cash grant distribution – VP

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The Government is considering a second countrywide COVID-19 cash grant distribution exercise. This was revealed by Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo.

After taking office in August 2020, People’s Progressive Party (PPP) rolled out a $25,000 per household cash grant to assist households during the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a programme on a US-based online radio station, Jagdeo said consideration for a second countrywide cash grant distribution exercise would be given by this year end. He was at the time asked about the Government’s efforts to provide a stimulus for the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Right now, we don’t have a second plan (for a cash grant) immediately, because we’ve not completely rolled out that plan as yet. There were people who filled up a pink form that we now have to go back and reassess. We’ll have to determine by the end of the year whether we’ll have another programme, because, logistically, it was very difficult to roll out; we had to go to every home.

“We continue with the hamper programme, but it’s more selective now. But the stimulus itself was through the tax measures. That, the $7 or $8 billion we spent in the cash grant, that also was spent back into the economy, so it did serve as a stimulus too,” the Vice President explained during the interview.

Jagdeo expounded that the two budgets passed by the PPP Government, the $330 billion emergency budget in September 2020 and the $353.8 billion budget passed in March of this year, acted as a stimulus for the economy.

“In that (emergency) budget, we removed taxes or reduced taxes and put in place other incentives that would be equivalent, when you annualise it, to $40 billion more in people’s pockets in tax savings.”

“And then, in the 2021 budget, we added to that. So, already, we see the benefit of this in the economy. The money that we gave out was not so much a stimulus to the economy, although it did serve that purpose. That was more to assist households with food and so. And a lot of people were appreciative of that,” he said.

On September 7 last, President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali announced that every household would benefit from the grant among other measures to help cushion the effects of the pandemic. The grant also sought to stimulate the economy by increasing people’s spending power.

Distribution began on September 29, 2020 in the farthest regions, given their vulnerable economic state. Citizens across the country have praised the Government for this measure, due to its timeliness.

Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Nigel Dharamlall, had announced last month that the second phase of the Government’s $25,000 household COVID-19 cash grant initiative would begin soon.
The Minister had encouraged citizens to work along with the distribution teams to ensure a smooth process. He had said the workers and Police faced several challenges to complete their task in the first phase due to residents’ behaviour.

“I’d like to encourage residents once again to make sure that they treat this process with some diligence and fairness, and also to avoid abusing and violating the staffers who will come around to do the distribution of the COVID cash grant in the second phase,” Dharamlall had said.