Prime Minister Harris’ COVID-19 Announcements

(ZIZ News)

Prime minister Dr. The Hon. Timothy Harris has made two major announcements regarding the country’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak worldwide.

During a press conference at the Ocean Terrace Inn on Tuesday, the Prime Minister said that the country will close its borders to all commercial flights as of 11:59 pm on Wednesday until April 7.

He said however air and sea cargo transport will be allowed and flights for medical emergency will be exempted.

The Prime Minister noted that the move to close borders as a precaution means that nationals who can’t return by the deadline will have to stay where they are until borders are reopened.

The Prime Minister’s second announcement was a wide-ranging stimulus package of nearly 120 million dollars to assist those who are losing income as the nation is impacted by the spread of the COVID-19 worldwide.

These measures included the suspension of property tax collection from June to September, removal of VAT and import duty for six months on hand sanitizers, hand sanitizer dispensers, disinfecting wipes, rubbing alcohol, gloves, masks and protective gowns; removal of import duty and custom service charge on vegetables, fruits, fruit juices, cough and cold medications, and vitamins for six months.

He said there would also be a waiver of payment for consumption of water for individuals who have been laid off or have reduced pay due to COVID-19.

The corporate income tax rate for April to June would also be reduced for businesses that keep at least 75 percent of their employees and unincorporated business tax would also be cut from 4 percent to 2 percent during that period.

The government plans to inject 10 million dollars to boost the production of agriculture and greater food security and farmers will not have to pay for water consumption from April to September.

The Prime Minister also announced that an additional 5 million dollars will be put into the government’s Poverty Alleviation Programme

Meanwhile, workers who contract the virus and for whom contributions were made would be eligible for Social Security benefits…up to $1000 a month for workers impacted by COVID 19. This goes for registered self-employed persons as well.

The Prime Minster said as the impact of COVID-19 may lead to more layoffs about 12 million dollars will be added to the severance fund.

Development Bank will also suspend loan repayments for 6 months and will waive all late fees and charges for persons who have lost income due to COVID-19.

NHC will also suspend mortgage payments for three months and SKELEC and NEVLEC will suspend payment for electricity for affected businesses and individuals from April to June.

The Prime Minister said access to capital to fund small and medium sized business, totalling 5 million dollars will be provided and the government is also providing funding through development bank for mortgage loans for citizens.

He said the government will also prioritize and accelerate pace of approved capital projects that could have a positive impact on the economy.

The Prime Minister wrapped up by thanking The Cable’s Covid-19 response by increasing speed of the entry level broadband package from 6 to 10 MB, cutting the cost of the Bolt and Flash packages by 20 percent, reopening of free Wi-Fi hotspots, and waiving late fees and installation fees.

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