The Government of Montserrat has spent EC$8.3 million in responding to COVID-19 with $1.4 million allocated to accommodate a team of Cuban medical experts expected in July.
Premier and Minister of Finance Joseph Farrell revealed this on Thursday, in his Administration’s first Budget for 2020/21.
According to the premier, the Ministry of Health is currently finalising plans for the visit of a 13-person Cuban Medical Team for three months starting in July. This he said, “will provide a massive boost to our medical team who have worked exceptional well during the Covid-19 crisis, and will help us in preparing for any future potential recurrence of the Covid-19 virus.”
Farrell also revealed that the price tag on fiscal support for the island is $6.9 million. During the months of April and May, over $3.5m EC in fiscal support was disbursed. Another $3.4m is estimated to be given before the end of June.
The government offered a salary support programme to all businesses, including tourism-related businesses. Over $1.5 million was given to 117 business representing 460 people. “By the end of June my Government will have provided over $2.3m in salary support. This is much needed support to continuing paying staff and supporting families during the crisis,” he stated.
“Further we have provided direct grants up to a maximum to $10K to 74 business supporting them in paying rent, utilities and insurance costs, total spend to the end of June will be just under $250k. This direct fiscal support has ensured that businesses remain solvent and are able to continue through the crisis.
“The introduction of unemployment benefit during the crisis has provided direct support to over 1000 people on Island, my Government had stepped in to provide needed benefit to support the people of Montserrat. To date we have provided nearly $1m in support and by the end of June we aim to allocate over $2.88 million. This is direct financial support to people to enable them to pay rent, food and utilities.,” the premier added.
To enable families to make it through the lockdown, the Government provided food packages to over 807 households at a cost of $300,000.
Farmers and related services have also received support to the tune of $338,000. This has been to directly support back yard gardening. By the end of June, another $278,000 is expected to be spent.
Schools were the first to be closed under the COVID-19 response and by the end of June, the premier said his government will have spent more than $330,000 in educational support. These funds are being used to purchase laptops for teachers and pupils, who cannot afford to purchase such devices in enabling the transition to greater online distance learning.
The Ministry of Health has also been given $350,000 to refurbish the Golden Years Home, retrofitting of Margetson
Memorial wards and the purchases of personal protection equipment for medical staff.
Read the full 2020/21 Budget Statement here —>