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All national government and state government employees will remain employed during this COVID-19 crisis while government seek remedies for private sector employees.

While preparations for handling and mitigating potential cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) are nearly completed, government turns its attention to addressing the impact of the virus on the economy.

During the situation briefing yesterday, President Remengesau Jr. said now that preparations are nearly done, it was time to focus on addressing the economic impact of the virus.

He said that work is being done by WIA (Work Investment Act), a US federally funded program, to survey all employees impacted by the COVID-19 and look for ways to help them.  This is mainly for private sector employees as Remengesau assured that all government employees jobs will not be affected.

WIA Office when reached said that they will be ready in about 2 weeks-time with their survey and ask for people to wait for the announcement.  “It may be sooner than that but just wait for our announcement because we are working hard to expedite it,” responded secretary of the program director Ulechong when reached yesterday for information.

Government now is looking to tap into disaster relief fund from ADB and the government reserve funds to help address the economic impact to businesses and jobs.

“These are the proposals that we will offer to the national leadership.  It will require legislation for us to be able to access these,” reported Minister of Finance Elbuchel Sadang at the meeting with press yesterday.

Minister Sadang is reluctant to reveal the details of specific measures recommended saying that leadership have first to see them and agree to them.  “We don’t want to raise false hopes before the leadership have had chance to approve them first,” added Sadang.

In the preliminary report last week by the Joint Committee for Mitigation of COVID-19 Impact, it revealed that Palau will face a fiscal shortfall of $45 million.  It also reported that the country’s GDP will drop by 23%, 10% this year and 13% next year.  It also reported that about 1,900 jobs in the private sector are expected to be lost as result of the pandemic.

Proposals are expected to be submitted this week to the national leadership.