STRENGTH – Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced announced on Friday that disbursements of more than 1,000 million dollars have already been exceeded through the 19 assistance programs to different sectors of Puerto Rico in accordance with the Strategic Disbursement Plan for the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF, for its acronym in English) established by the CARES Act.
“This distribution of aid to tackle the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on multiple fronts in Puerto Rico, has allowed us to continue reactivating our economy, protect the jobs of our people and maintain continuity in government operations so that services to the people are not affected, “said the first executive in written communication.
The funds currently disbursed are 1,041 million dollars, which represents about 50 percent of the 2.2 billion dollars allocated to Puerto Rico. The distribution includes $ 251 million to provide emergency assistance to private hospitals for expenses related to COVID-19. It also includes $ 190 million, or 95 percent of the funds available for the self-employed assistance program. Additionally, $ 122 million has been disbursed as part of the small business assistance program, positively impacting about 96 percent of eligible small businesses. Furthermore, some $ 13 million has been distributed from the mid-size business assistance program, benefiting about 76 percent of the island’s eligible mid-size businesses.
Municipalities have received $ 74 million for eligible expenses related to COVID-19. Even from the initial allocation of 150 million dollars, 72 million dollars have been destined for the purchase of COVID-19 tests and for the “contact tracing” program for patients or suspected of having the virus, including full financing of the tracking program at the municipal level.
The tourism industry has received some $ 22 million in assistance for emergency-related expenses of about $ 50 million initially available.
Some 19,463 new college students have benefited from the Technology Solutions Program, funds of which have been disbursed $ 13 million to date. This program allows the acquisition of electronic equipment and internet connection services through internet service providers regulated by the Telecommunications Bureau that have been certified under the program.
On the other hand, the totality of the 150 million dollars assigned to give liquidity to the Unemployment Fund of the Department of Labor and Human Resources (DTRH) was disbursed. In addition, public hospitals received $ 16 million in emergency assistance and $ 19 million are available under this program.
It also disbursed $ 40 million for the purchase of materials and protective equipment to be distributed in all government offices, $ 24 million for the government’s remote work program, and $ 6 million for expenses in the island’s prisons.
The Payroll Protection Program for the private sector, which has $ 350 million, started last week, and $ 32 million have already been disbursed, 3,743 businesses have benefited in Puerto Rico.
The $ 40 million telemedicine program administered by the Department of Health has continued to evaluate proposals since its inception on August 26, 2020.
For his part, the executive director of the Puerto Rico Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority (AAFAF), Omar Marrero Díaz, reiterated that the Strategic Plan establishes a balance between the needs caused by the public health emergency and the funds necessary to provide emergency assistance to the economy of Puerto Rico, which has been collaterally affected by the emergency caused by COVID-19.
“In keeping with our commitment to transparency and fiscal responsibility, we will continue to closely monitor all programs and disbursements. Meanwhile, our administration will continue to work hard to disburse the remaining funds through these programs on or before December 31, 2020 to continue helping our people and the most productive sectors of our island, “said Marrero Díaz.
To know the progress of disbursements of CRF funds, they must access aafaf.pr.gov in the section of “COVID-19 Resource Center”.