Out of the $14 million-dollar grant assistance received under the US CARES Act, $10 million has been expended and $4 million is now left to be disbursed to those that were formally employed but lost their jobs or had their hours reduced due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Senator Frank Kyota, Chairman of Senate Committee on RCTD issued a report to Senate in response to announcement issued by WIOA that it will no longer accept Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) from “self employed” Palauan citizens.

The report stated that the WIOA is no longer accepting applications of those that are “self-employed” such as boat operators, makit, taxi drivers, fisherman, craftsman, farmers and others engaged in the informal economy.

The decision is reported to be “driven by the necessity to preserve a limited pool of money and prioritize providing financial assistance to those individuals employed in the formal economy who are likely to be laid off or have their hours significantly reduced in coming weeks.”

According to Senator Kyota’s report, WIOA Director Ulengchong explained that her office initially applied for temporary assistance to support those Palauanswhose livelihood substantially depended on tourism.  The office earlier decided to include “self employed” as they were negatively impacted by the sudden disappearance of foreign visitors.

The report states that “prospects of self-employed individuals have somewhat improved” citing re-opening of PVA Night Markets and disbursement of funds over the past few months.

Due to “dwindling pool of grant money”, WIOA had “no choice” but to stop accepting PUA applications from “self-employed” and the prioritize the greater need of workers in the formal sector in the coming months.

WIOA received over 1,000 applications and issued financial assistance to more than 800 individuals.  This PUA grant funding will lapse in December of this year.

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