Congress extended until December 31, 2021 the period for the government of Puerto Rico to continue disbursing funds through assistance programs to different sectors of the country, in accordance with the Strategic Disbursement Plan for the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF , for its acronym in English) and established by the Cares Act.
This was reported by Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced and the executive director of the Financial Advisory Authority and Fiscal Agency (Aafaf), Omar Marrero.
“This extension will allow the government to continue tackling the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on multiple fronts in Puerto Rico. In addition, an additional $ 150 million is guaranteed for contact tracing programs through the Puerto Rico Municipal Case Investigation and Contact Tracing System ”, stated the first executive.
In addition, Marrero explained that currently the funds disbursed under these programs amount to $ 1.49 billion of the $ 2.2 billion assigned to Puerto Rico.
During the term of the programs of the Coronavirus Relief Fund, $ 480.8 million have been distributed to the economic sectors of the Island. This has benefited 7,152 employers who received help for payroll, 25,381 small businesses, 1,269 medium businesses, 190,064 self-employed and 562 hotels and related businesses.
$ 390 million has also been distributed to ensure that private and public hospitals have the necessary tools to respond to the emergency caused by the pandemic, including the incentive payment for the assumed risk “hazard pay” for health professionals who are at risk. contagion by Covid-19.
Regarding the response to Covid-19 and the tracking of cases, the government has made available more than $ 270 million to implement these programs at the municipal level, as well as for the acquisition of personal protective equipment, disinfection material and for implementation of other additional programs aimed at promoting social distancing.
In addition, over $ 300,000 was earmarked for the acquisition of deep-freezing refrigerators and materials necessary to protect the distribution of vaccines against Covid-19.
$ 40 million was also distributed for a dozen proposals for telemedicine programs to ensure that medical service is available to all residents of Puerto Rico. On the other hand, $ 200 million was earmarked for the 78 municipalities for eligible expenses related to the emergency.
On the other hand, vouchers for the total amount of $ 17,336,460.36 have been redeemed to 21,522 high school graduates, who obtained the technological equipment and internet services to be able to access their classes at the university or postsecondary educational institution virtually. Likewise, $ 45,920,342.96 in internet access grants were distributed to 143,425 students and teachers of the public education system.
“As of December 17, 2020, $ 580,437,565 of funds left over from the reserve and programs that had met their objective remained to be distributed or obligated. Although this amount had been incurred before December 30, 2020, our objective is the efficient use of these funds and ensure that the Department of Health and other emergency response institutions have the necessary resources to continue their efforts, ”explained the executive director of the Aafaf.
Marrero indicated that an additional $ 150 million was allocated to the Unemployment Fund Trust to guarantee its solvency. An additional $ 150 million will also be allocated for the island’s public and private hospitals.
“We will continue to closely monitor all programs and disbursements so that economic aid reaches the sectors that need it most. Meanwhile, our administration will continue to work hard to disburse the remaining funds through these programs for the benefit of the most productive sectors and through other entities that will also join our efforts to support the communities ”, concluded Marrero.