Wed. Apr 1st, 2020

Group to recommend relief measures from COVID-19 impact

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Joint leadership consisting of the President of the Republic and leaders of both Senate and House of Delegates created a COVID-19 Impact Mitigation Working Group consisting of private sector and public sector representatives to “recommend measures to mitigate the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The organizing document states, “the travel restrictions are having cascading economic consequences, striking hardest in industries that are reliant on travel and tourism,” and “these economic consequences significantly impact government revenue, threatening the availability of critical government services as well as government’s ability to backstop the economy through countercyclical spending.”

The working group is tasked to recommend measures to the President and presiding officers of the Olbiil Era Kelulauto mitigate social and economic impact of the pandemic.

Tasks include to “assess health, safety, social and economic impacts of COVID-19, toprovide recommendations to support r most vulnerable citizens and residents, to relieve and support the private sector and to ensure swift recovery of Palau’s visitors industry.”

While the group has just started to meet, already certain entities are offering relief to individuals and businesses in response to the felt impact of the pandemic.  National Development Bank of Palau is offering certain payment options to individuals and businesses that have loans with them to relieve them at this time.  Public utilities such as PPUC and PNCC are not cutting services due to unpaid bills. Ministry of Finance is giving businesses relief byrequiring businesses to file their taxes and deferring their tax payments. MOF Minister Sadang added that those companies will also enter into payment agreements with Tax Office.

Members of the Working Group include representatives from both houses of OEK, representatives from the Ministries, Governors Association, Speakers Association, Palau Chamber of Commerce and Belau Tourism Association.

Theextent of the impact of COVID-19 on Palau’s economic, social and political landscape is not clear at this time.