Tourism industry workers who have been receiving a stipend from the government since last year will get an extra CI$500 from this month.
It comes as the government announced a new raft of financial support packages for businesses and workers still reeling from the economic impact of the COVI-19 pandemic.
The stipend for tourism workers is being increased, businesses which failed to qualify for the grants and soft loan packages will be offered a one-off payment and there’s further assistance for persons struggling with health insurance premiums.
This comes as the Finance Minister Roy McTaggart says the government’s finances are performing better than expected due on the one hand to a reduction in spending by some government departments mainly for supplies, and increased earnings particularly from real stamp duties.
He also credited the People’s Progressive Party-led Unity coalition government for prudent economic management, especially during the ongoing pandemic.
Announcing that the tourism stipend will be increased from CI$1,000 to CI$1,500 per month, the finance minister said: “Whilst our local economy continues to perform well we know there are many in our tourism sector who are still suffering due to our borders being closed."
He reminded that "some time ago Government had determined that if our finances allowed we would look again at the assistance that could be provided to displaced tourism workers.”
The CI$500 stipend increase will be added to the payments starting this month and running until June.
Only tourism industry workers who are already receiving the stipend will be eligible for the increase, and no new applicants will be considered.
“This increase to the stipend is another step in helping our tourism workers to weather the economic and financial hardships caused by COVID-19,” Mr McTaggart stated.
Hon. Premier Alden McLaughlin added that even though some tourism workers might have obtained other jobs in the interim, they will continue to receive their monthly stipend and will be eligible for the increased amount.
“We are not going through a new exercise to take it away from people who are currently receiving it,” the Premier said, adding that, we all know that living in Cayman is expensive. A thousand dollars a month or fifteen hundred dollars a month - you can’t live on that really, although some people do, or have to”
He further explained, “We’ve always understood that this was assistance to people, not a substitute for them getting a regular salary.”
It was not immediately clear what will happen in June following the general election in May, and the ongoing assessment of when to relax border restrictions and further open the economy - a target linked vaccinating 90% of the over-60s.