Govt touts assistance to businesses ahead of budget presentation

As a part of ongoing assistance to businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has approved close to $6 million in tax relief to large companies and has disbursed nearly $4 million to small and medium-sized businesses up to mid-May.

The update was given as the government finalizes the 2020/21 annual budget exercise.

The Ministry of Finance revealed in a statement yesterday that such initiatives will be a priority during the next fiscal year.

“The government approved $5.7 million in tax relief that went directly to support payroll expenses for non-executive employees at 76 large employers. These companies represent over 6,500 non-executive employees, who may have otherwise been laid off without the assistance of the government’s tax credit and deferral program,” a release from the Ministry of Finance released yesterday point out.

“As of mid-May, the Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) and its financing partners had approved $19.4 million in funding to 283 small businesses, taking advantage of the government-subsidized business continuity program. Approximately $3.7 million of this total has already been disbursed to approved businesses, which have been able to use the funds to cover operational expenses, including payroll. The SBDC is working expeditiously to disburse the remaining approved funds, which will take place in due course.”

The government has also paid $6.2 million as a part of its unemployment assistance initiative for self-employed individuals impacted by COVID-19.

Additionally, approximately 26,000 claimants have been paid a total of $28.7 million in unemployment benefit from the National Insurance Board.

The government allocated $120 million for social, health, business and economic relief efforts associated with the pandemic.

Speaking to the upcoming budget exercise, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said the demand for these programs has been clear over the past three months.

“We know the demand is still there for these programs and I can assure Bahamians that in the new budget, we are making adequate provisions to ensure no Bahamian goes hungry. We are prioritizing the needs of vulnerable Bahamians who are depending on our support and protection,” he said.

The 2020/21 annual budget is expected to presented to Parliament on Wednesday.

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Paige McCartney

Paige joined The Nassau Guardian in 2010 as a television news reporter and anchor. She has covered countless political and social events that have impacted the lives of Bahamians and changed the trajectory of The Bahamas. Paige started working as a business reporter in August 2016. Education: Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2006 with a BA in Radio and Television News

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