This was disclosed by Premier and Minister of Finance Hon Andrew A. Fahie (R1) at a press conference on Friday, April 22, 2022.
The premier gave a breakdown of how the 15,241,839 was distributed and said information continues to be collected from recipients to give account on how the grants were used.
He said to date, 1,223 SMEs received stimulus grants totalling $7,406,521.
Some 220 farmers received stimulus grants totalling $3,121,500, and 213 fishermen and fisherwomen received stimulus grants totalling $2,222,000.
Grants totalling $530,359 were provided to 19 Day Cares/Pre-schools. Some 109 churches and religious organizations received stimulus grants totalling $1,599,000; and 12 private schools received grants totalling $362,459.
Premier Fahie said the Action Plan for the monitoring and evaluation of the various economic stimulus programmes, is a three-phase plan.
He said under the first phase, reporting and data collection is taking place. “The Permanent Secretary, Premier’s Office has written to all grant recipients reminding them of their obligations to provide an account for the use of funds and to participate in surveys and other exercises for monitoring and evaluation.”
The premier added that feedback forms for each initiative have been sent to each grant recipient, and they are reminded to complete the forms and submit them. Submission can be done in electronic format and via the internet.
Respondents are asked to provide details, with supporting documents, receipts and photographs where applicable, proof of payments such as statutory obligations, utilities, equipment, rent, mortgage, creditors, suppliers and staff.
They are also required to provide a statement of how the stimulus grant assisted their business or organisation in coping with the COVID-19 economic challenges. Farmers and fisherfolk are required to submit details of their operations such as acreage farmed and crops, or catch respectively.
Premier Fahie said four bulletins were circulated by the Government Information Services (GIS) between August 2021 and March 2022 reminding recipients of their obligation to report back to the Government via the Premier’s Office on how they spent the grant funding.
Additionally, he said the Premier’s Office has requested assistance from the Agriculture and Fisheries Department with conducting site visits to the farms and fisherfolk for inspection of their premises to verify the use of the stimulus grant funding they received.
It was revealed that the Premier’s Office has received a number of responses from stimulus grant recipients. As of March 28, 2022, a total of 195 grant recipients had responded.
“A team from Premier’s Office along with staff from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries will be conducting site visits to the farmers and fishermen within the next few weeks to begin onsite verifications.
“Additionally, the Premier's Office has allocated staff resources to call recipients who have not yet provided any data to remind and prompt them to get their information in.”
Premier Fahie reminded that due to the risks associated with COVID-19 it was difficult to conduct site visits at that time, hence the reason only now monitoring and evaluation of recipients of COVID-19 stimulus grants are being emphasised.
“It was risky to have persons coming into Government offices and having physical interactions. Most public officers were working remotely. And offices that were open went through periods of lockdown as COVID-19 cases were detected,” Premier Fahie explained.