President Surangel Whipps Jr. signing into the law the extension of CROSS Act. Witnessed by Senate President Hokkons Baules and Speaker Sabino Anastacio.

The 11th Palau National Government’s first enacted law, RPPL 11-01, provides relief by extending the COVID-19 pandemic relief known as CROSS Act. The bill was signed into law by President Surangel Whipps Jr. yesterday, a first law he signed as President of the Republic of Palau.
“We are indeed in difficult times and can’t do without the loans and assistance that we use to fuel our government operations and help with our daily lives,” stated President Surangel Whipps Jr., recognizing the support of Asian Development Bank and Palau development partners.
President Whipps acknowledges the support of the United States for extending its own pandemic relief known CARES Act to Palau. The assistance helps nearly 1,600 Palauans who have either lost jobs or have their work hours reduced due to the pandemic impact. Palau’s CROSS Act covers those that missed CARES Act applications deadlines or were not eligible.
Both Senate and House of Delegates of the Olbiil Era Kelulau have been working feverishly in these first two weeks in office to pass a bill to extend the assistance offered under the CROSS Act for two more months. Under the new law extending the life of the CROSS Act, it authorized $1.5 million to cover the assistance for two months while the new government work on its Unified Budget which is due in March. The law only extended Section 3 of RPPL 10-56 that covers private sector relief measures. These include loans to help private businesses, payment deferrals such as tax, SS or HCF payments, employment transfer, unemployment benefits and expanded lifeline utility.
The covid relief measures under the law will be administered under the Ministry of Finance whose new Minister Kaleb Udui Jr. was sworn in the same the day the bill was signed into law.
President Whipps confirmed that there will be some changes in the regulations such as the amount of unemployment assistance provided with foreign workers receiving 50% of what they received before and requirement to go back to work with their employers to help prepare for the re-opening of tourism industry.
Under the Temporary Employment relief service, the law allows retroactive pay for those that choose to go back to work for the week from February 1st to the day this law came into effect.
Minister of Finance through regulations will make determination on the eligibility of companies and individuals who were beneficiaries of this law.
The CROSS Act passed last year during the 10th government offered assistance to individuals and businesses that were affected by the pandemic, especially tourism related businesses that closed down or cut back due to lack of tourists as result of border closure. It has provided subsidy to Palau’s private sector for the last 9 months. The law expired on January 31, 2021 and assistances provided ended as result.

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