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Finance Minister Colm Imbert.

In just two days, more than 14,000 people have already started the process of applying for the Salary Relief Grant for May, Finance Minister Colm Imbert disclosed yesterday.

The majority of those who have applied so far are from the food/restaurant services sector.

The Salary Relief Grant application portal went online on Wednesday at 7 am and by noon yesterday, more than 72,840 people had visited the site.

Most of the visitors to the site, however, seemed to have been people who simply wanted to inquire about it.

“Even though 72,000 persons have visited our salary portal, only 14,000 persons have registered—demonstrating an intention to go through and complete an application—and of those 14,000, 2,850 have already submitted an application and about 12,000 are in the process of submitting their application,” Imbert said.

According to the SRG E-Portal data the number of people who registered as of 11.50 am yesterday was 14,331.

Some 6,538 were from the food/restaurant services sector while 4,820 were from retail outlets.

The construction sector, however, remains unable to access the grant, Imbert said.

But it is something he says the Finance Ministry is looking at.

“It is not something we are closing our eyes to. It is also a very large number of people so we have to think about that very carefully so I have taken note of the request from construction workers, but it is complicated,” he said.

Last Monday, Imbert announced that the Government would be providing $1,000 and $1,500 grants to people who lost their jobs this month because of the restrictions put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced that the country was under a State of Emergency with a curfew from 9 pm to 5 am.

Imbert says despite this, however, there are no plans to extend the period for the grants as yet.

“We are cognizant of the fact that the State of Emergency may have complicated things a little somewhat so we are adjusting all the time and we are adjusting to suit,” he said.

To date, a total of 86,196 Salary Relief Grants have been paid out by the Finance Ministry from last year’s applications.

There are still, however, 7,000 people who were approved who are still awaiting their funds because of problems with their bank accounts.

“I am happy to report that of the 7,000, 6,139 records have been forwarded to First Citizens to prepare debit cards for them and 5,000 cards have already been generated and these are going to be delivered via TTPost,” Imbert said.

With that in mind, Imbert said do not pay any mind to those on Facebook who claim that they have applied for the Salary Relief Grants and have not received any funds.

“I have given you the actual numbers. I have given you the facts. The persons who are trolling on the Facebook page, what they are saying is not factual they don’t have any evidence to back up what they are saying,” Imbert said.

Apart from the Finance Ministry’s assistance, Imbert said the Central Bank and the commercial banks are in dialogue to provide a moratorium and a deferral of loan payments for customers.

First Citizens has announced that customers wishing to obtain this concession should fill out an application form on its website before July 31.

He said no decision has been made as yet on what should be done for Caribbean Airlines.

“Caribbean Airlines has been struggling. Their income is almost nothing and they are being supported by the government we put out US$100 million last year to support Caribbean Airlines we have not yet reached the point where we have made a decision as to whether we should continue to give Caribbean Airlines that level of support or not. It is very difficult I must say to support an airline that is burning up 700 million of taxpayers dollars every year,” he said.