PHONPEI (THE GUAM PACIFIC DAILY NEWS) — The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) has started preparing applications to support low-income households.
The initiative comes after FSM President David W. Panuelo announced in December 2020 a series of social protections to ease the economic impact from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The social protection programmes include:
- Cash transfer grants to 4,500 low-income families;
- Food security for community groups and low income families;
- Community grants to teach and prevent COVID-19, and
- Help to the elderly, people with disabilities and survivors of gender-based violence.
The US$6 million cash transfer provides temporary relief for families outside of the formal labor sector, such as farmers and fishermen, and labourers who don’t qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Each family can expect a one-time assistance of US$1,000, the release stated.
The US$2 million food security programme provides subsistence training and distributes free planting and fishing materials, the release stated.
The community COVID-19 awareness grant, totaling US$2 million, educates people about handwashing and social distancing. The grant will also pilot a gender-based violence hotline in Pohnpei, the release stated.
The help to vulnerable groups, totalling US$1 million, provides temporary waivers of medical expenses not included under funds from the Compact of Free Association. The government will subsidise electricity for 2,000 low-income families with dependents who have disabilities.
The programme also gives solar lamps to 5,000 families on remote islands, prepares rape and intimate partner violence kits, and holds consultations for survivors of gender-based violence, the release stated.
As of 18 February, the FSM Department of Finance & Administration has prepared applications and questionnaires for low income households in Pohnpei and expects to expand to Yap, Chuuk and Kosrae on 22-26 February.
The first cheques for the programmes will be written in April, a government statement stated.
“The agency is visiting the municipal government offices to outline the low-income support program, then work with each municipality to distribute forms and collect the information,” said Eugene Amor, secretary of Finance & Administration.
One important part, Amor said, is setting up a database to cross-check application data against Social Security and income tax information.
“We’re testing to see if people can fill in the data right, and also to see if we’re collecting information to create eligibility for low-income support,” Amor said….. PACNEWS