Only tourism-related businesses make affirmative list for final FA4JR disbursements |19 February 2021
In line with the declaration made by the Minister for Finance, Economic Planning and Trade (MFEPT) Naadir Hassan in the Budget 2021 speech on Tuesday February 16, the ministry yesterday published the affirmative list of businesses that will be assisted for the months of February and March 2021, before the Financial Assistance for Job Retention (FA4JR) scheme is phased out.
The list which was finalised following analysis of applications lodged last year, and consultations with the private sector is as follows:
• Self-Catering Establishments, Guesthouses, Hotels, Restaurants
• Airlines, Car Hires, Bicycle Hires, Boat/Yacht Charters, Destination Management Companies, Tour Guides, Travel Agents
• Watersport, Dive Centers, Musicians, Artists
• Omnibus operators, Ferry Services, Taxis, Motor Vehicle Dealers
• Handicraft and souvenir shops
As explained by secretary of state for Finance Patrick Payet during a press conference yesterday afternoon, businesses on the affirmative list are those directly related to the tourism industry, which still remains the hardest hit sector economically. Onlybusinesses whose activities fall wholly within the Affirmative List will continue to receive assistance under the scheme for the remaining two months until the scheme is phased out, while other businesses whose activities do not fall wholly within the Affirmative List will cease to receive assistance.
For applicants who were benefitting under Form 1 (Employee Salary Assistance), businesses on the Affirmative List who are already receiving assistance will receive 50% of the previously approved payroll value automatically for the months of February and March 2021. No additional applications are necessary. However, if any employees have left the business, the business must advise MFEPT of these employees who have left via the FA4JR online portal (https://mof.egov.sc/FA4JRsubmissions), and payments will be adjusted accordingly.
As for Form 2 applicants, (Self-Employed Income Assistance), business-owners on the Affirmative List who are already receiving assistance will automatically receive R5,804 per month for February and March 2021, and again, no additional applications are necessary.
With regard to the decision to cut-back on payments and exclude certain industries who have also been hit hard by the pandemic, SS Payet reiterated that the scheme is economically unsustainable for government, as the domestic economy faces an unprecedented downturn.
“For the year 2020, we paid out a total of R1.26 billion, as compared to the revised budget which was at R1.274 billion, so we were around R12 million under the revisited budget for 2020, and the total budget forecasted for the upcoming three months is R192 million, as compared to the total paid out in 2020,” SS Payet stated.
A total of 1068 businesses, employing 8610 employees benefitted under Form 1 of the scheme in 2020, while 2806 individuals received assistance under Form 2. The total amount to be paid out until the end of March is expected to amount to R1.4 billion.
While many categories of businesses have been excluded from the list and no new applications will be considered for February or March 2021, SS Payet noted that businesses not directly involved in the tourism industry but whose activities are somehow related or dependent on the industry can through the online portal submit information to the ministry to determine whether they qualify for the assistance for the two months.
Businesses not on the affirmative list can also opt for other support and relief measures introduced by government, including the Private Sector Relief Scheme, a credit facility set up by the Central Bank of Seychelles (CBS) aimed at helping businesses facing financial constraints in meeting critical expenditure, such as rent, utilities, salaries and taxes.
Such an option is available to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), for whom a R500 million credit facility has been established, with 5-year repayment periods and 70 percent government guarantee, as well as to large enterprises for which R750 million has been allocated, also with a 5-year repayment period and 50 percent government guarantee.
Alternatively, businesses whose annual revenue does not exceed R2 million, can apply to the Development Bank of Seychelles (DBS) for the Small Business Development Fund, a financial assistance of up to R100, 000 with a repayment period of 3 years.
Despite the fact that the scheme is to end in March 2021, work on FA4JR is to continue for a while SS Payet added, as the Auditor General conducts an audit of the scheme and finances, and an audit report is published. If it is found that any applicants benefitted through fraudulent claims, such applicants and businesses will have to face legal repercussions, said SS Payet.
Presently, all records are being digitised to facilitate this activity.
“We will use this information to assess the individual cases based on the decision that was taken, and if the proper information was submitted to the committee by the applicants when they submitted the applications. It will be a continuous process for us to ensure that any overpayments, or anybody who qualified but who based on new information that we have should not have qualified, we need to ensure that we at least collect those overpayments, and those payments made fraudulently or maliciously,” SS Payet concluded.
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