As the number of cases confirmed by COVID-19 increases, there is growing uncertainty about what measures the central government will take to reduce the economic impact of the cessation of operations. Today, Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced presented to the people a series of economic initiatives available to the citizens in this difficult time we are going through.
Here are some highlights from the press conference:
Continued payment of salaries to public employees who are part of the central government. About 134,200 workers will continue to be paid during this emergency.
Extension of income tax payments until July 15.
Suspension for a period of three months of the 10% withholding at the source of payments for professional services.
Suspension for a period of three months of the Puerto Rico Sales and Use Tax in the ports and in the resale chain.
They will be giving a $500 cash incentive. This incentive would be reaching about 170,000 people in Puerto Rico.
A $1,500 incentive will be granted to all small and medium businesses that have ceased operations during this crisis. This assistance is focused on small and medium-sized business employers with 50 or fewer employees, who do not qualify for federal aid.
A bonus was established for several professionals within the emergency:
Up to $4,000 for all nurses in the public and private system
Up to $2,500 for health technicians
Up to $4,000 for medical emergency response personnel
Up to $3,500 for police, fire and corrections officers
Designation of $30 million distributed in $15 million for two months to assist in the purchase of equipment in public hospitals.
Designation of $20 million for the purchase of necessary health safety equipment such as gloves, masks and hand sanitizer for the Puerto Rico Police.
Allocation of $240 million for the purchase of tablets, software and training for approximately 325,000 teachers, students and principals of the ED (Department of Education), in order to encourage online distance education.
Designation of $50 million distributed for two months to assist in losses that municipalities have had due to the emergency. The government will establish the requirements.
The Fiscal Control Board authorized an increase in unemployment benefits beginning in July 2020.
Water and electricity services will not be suspended during the emergency, nor will there be any charge for the use of tolls.
It will coordinate with the federal government to provide unemployment assistance to the self-employed. Also, it will include those workers who were ordered to take unpaid leave and who do not qualify for unemployment or sick leave. The benefit extends to part-time workers for at least two quarters of the base period.
As established with bank presidents, there will be a 90-day moratorium on mortgage payments, car payments, personal loans, commercial loans and credit cards. It also extends to members of cooperatives. You are responsible for calling your financial institution and requesting the moratorium.
Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced urged people to continue the executive order to stay in their homes. At this time, the government continues to work on measures to control the spread of COVID-19 and to address the economic concerns associated with this quarantine.
It is important to emphasize unity and solidarity during this process. We are all responsible for the care and well-being of our home and our surroundings, following measures that will help us overcome this emergency and stay healthy.