Puerto Rico Gov. Vázquez unveils plan to disburse $2.2B CARES Act funds
Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez will sign an Executive Order that adopts the Strategic Disbursement Plan of the $2.2 billion from the Coronavirus Relief Fund created through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).
The document, prepared in accordance with the parameters established by the U.S. Department of Treasury, contains dozens of programs and initiatives that seek to address the direct and indirect consequences caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among the initiatives and measures included in the Strategic Plan to assist the private sector, Vázquez confirmed the disbursement of a $1,000 incentive for self-employed individuals — starting as early as this weekend — a $5,000 incentive for small businesses with between two and 49 employees, and an incentive $10,000 for companies with up to 500 employees.
In addition, it includes a $350 million initiative to reimburse the private sector for part of the payroll that they have continued to pay during the emergency, despite the interruption of operations, and $10 million set aside to provide workshops and training to small and medium-sized companies in topics related to COVID-19.
On the other hand, $150 million is included to provide emergency assistance to private hospitals for those expenses related to COVID-19 and $50 million for the same purposes to the tourism industry.
In addition, $150 million is earmarked to buy COVID-19 tests and run the contact tracing program for patients or those suspected of having COVID-19, Another $100 million will also be set aside to buy materials and protective equipment to be distributed to all government offices.
Another $100 million is assigned to municipalities for eligible COVID-19-related expenses and $150 million to provide liquidity to the Department of Labor and Human Resources’ Unemployment Fund, Vázquez said during a news conference at La Fortaleza.
Another $485.6 million is set aside for future expenses and reimbursements to the General Fund and the government’s Emergency Reserve for eligible expenses.
Finally, $40 million is included for the government’s remote work program, $40 million for the telemedicine program, $10 million for expenses in the island’s prisons, and $5 million for the homeless assistance program.
Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority, or AAFAF, Executive Director Omar Marrero said the strategic plan developed in coordination with the U.S. Treasury “establishes a balance between the needs caused by the public health emergency and the funds necessary to provide emergency assistance to our economy, which has been collaterally affected by the emergency caused by COVID-19.”
“In line with our commitment to transparency and fiscal responsibility, we’ll be closely monitoring all programs and disbursements, to make the pertinent recommendations to the governor,” Marrero said.
“In addition, we’ll be periodically publishing on our website a report with the detail of all disbursements,” he said.