Restoration of jobs lost during COVID-19 pandemic high on agenda of economic recovery task force

Finance Minister Dr Nigle Clarke

Minister of Finance and the Public Service Nigel Clarke has said that the newly established COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force will be working assiduously to ensure the restoration of jobs lost as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Clarke, who chairs the multisectoral group, said data, particularly from applications for assistance under the Government’s COVID Allocation of Resources for Employees (CARE) Programme, showed that “we have had tens and tens of thousands of Jamaicans who, unfortunately, have been laid off and, in some cases terminated, since our first COVID-19 case was confirmed on March 10”.

He noted that 60,000 applications have been received for the Supporting Employees with Transfer of Cash (SET Cash) component of the CARE Programme, which will provide grants to persons who earned taxable income of $1.5 million or less, who have been laid off or have lost their jobs.

The minister said layoffs and job losses have occurred in a number of sectors and subsectors. These include tourism and attractions, the airline industry, entertainment, manufacturing, retail, security, entertainment, early childhood, and private education services.

He pointed out that in the case of the latter, “we are seeing where some enterprises have resorted to laying off temporarily, as schools remain out”. Of note, Clarke said data from the SET Cash applications suggest that more than 75 per cent of the applicants are under age 40, pointing out that these are “persons who are starting out in life [and] have obligations”.

The Minister described this scenario as “very painful”, particularly in light of the significant level of job creation and reduction in unemployment occurring in recent years.