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CIG Financial Performance leads to more Cash Pay-outs

Government 08 Feb, 2021 Follow News

Minister Mctaggart announces Tourism Stipend Increase

Ahead of what Hon. Premier Alden McLaughlin called “a most exciting announcement", Government has again dipped into its coffers to provide more financial support to individuals and small businesses struggling in the economic downturn caused by the COVID-10 pandemic.

This comes as the government says its finances are still in broadly good shape notwithstanding the impact on expected revenues which it reports have been offset by less spending in some areas and improved performance in others.

According to Hon. Premier Alden McLaughlin coming at a press conference this week will be “a most exciting announcement that will have a massive positive impact on the lives of everybody who lives here.”

No details were indicated other than “it’s not about COVID” at what would be the government’s third press conference for the year so far and the second this month. That's quite unlike the pattern in the second half of last year when the previous weekly press conferences updating on the pandemic had trickled to a minimum.

But with campaigning for the May general election now hitting full stride, this has led to a swirl of speculation including the likelihood of a generous pension offer, possibly more targeted financial assistance, or job creation to alleviate the economic slowdown and financial burden.

The government went to great lengths at last week’s press conference to highlight its stewardship of the economy, especially during the pandemic, but also the growth it spearheaded since coming into office.

Based on better-than-expected performance of government finances last year, it announced then further assistance for furloughed tourism workers with a CI$500 increase on their monthly CI$1,000 until June.

Also, small businesses which did not qualify for the previous roll-out of government support will now get a one-off payment of CI$3,000, plus, government will cover the premiums of persons who have been unable to pay their health insurance premiums.

Hon. Commerce Minister Joey Hew reported that since the pandemic started over around CI$10 million had already been provided to more than 4,000 small business in loans and grants.

Hon. Health Minister Dwayne Seymour in announcing the assistance with insurance premiums said from April to June last year the Ministry of Health in conjunction with the Health Insurance Commission had offered an initial assistance programme to those persons who needed help to pay their remiums.

Around 1,250 persons are said to have benefited at a cost of approximately CI$400,000.

For the new phase of support, Mr Seymour said, “For some time now we have been considering how best to continue with health insurance assistance and I am pleased to confirm that the Ministry and the Health Insurance Commission, together with the Approved Insurance companies, have agreed to this new programme focused on assisting those in the tourism and hospitality industries who have suffered job loss and severely reduced income from their businesses.

Hon. Finance Minister Roy McTaggart who will be taking over the leadership reins of the coalition-leading People’s Progressive Party from outgoing Premier Alden McLaughlin, has credited prudent economic management.

"As we continue to navigate through this global pandemic, I’m happy to be able to report today that we are in a much better place than we anticipated at the start of the pandemic," the Finance Minister stated.

With an unmistakable nod to the election campaign and pushing the party’s prospects for a return to power, Mr McTaggart said:

“We have over two terms now demonstrated fiscal leadership by creating substantial surpluses that were used to reduce debt by more than half, rebuild cash reserves and to fund large infrastructure projects from cash without increasing taxation or debt.”

In full campaign mode, he continued: “Few other past administrations, if any, can lay claim to similar accomplishments. But this administration can. And we did it with sound planning, judgement and leadership. That sound planning ensured that when COVID-19 hit we were as well prepared financially to weather the storm even with borders closed.”

The PPM leader-designate said, “That is the same planning, judgement, and leadership that prepared the country financially for an economic downturn that helped guide these Islands through the worst of 2020 and is helping bring some confidence to our prospects in 2021.

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