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Payroll Protection Program incentives now available to eligible island businesses


By John McPhaul

jpmcphaul@gmail.com


Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced announced Wednesday that economic incentives through the federal Payroll Protection Program (PPP) are now available to Puerto Rico’s hard-hit private sector.


The PPP incentives are offered under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act’s Strategic Disbursement Plan.


“Today [Wednesday], after a strict application process that seeks to ensure the proper distribution of funds, we are pleased to announce the approval of the disbursement of the first $350 million of the private sector Payroll Protection Program,” the governor said. “We are aware of the challenges that private employers have faced in the wake of this global pandemic. For this reason, we have worked hard to start the disbursement process and cover the expenses related to this emergency.”


The program has $350 million to provide emergency assistance through a grant to private employers with 500 or fewer employees who have continued to pay their payroll during the COVID-19 emergency despite the interruption of their operations.


It is available to private employers in the construction, commerce, manufacturing, transportation and hospitality industries, among others, as well as to those who offer professional, educational and health services.


Island Treasury Secretary Francisco Parés Alicea said the PPP will benefit some 30,000 employers, who have already been identified.


“The Treasury Department issued Internal Revenue Memo 20-38 outlining the steps and the procedure for requesting financial assistance under the program through the SURI platform,” he said.


Parés Alicea said the employers that will benefit are those with, among other characteristics, an annual income of $10 million or less.


“These [businesses] must also have been operating since March 15, 2020, have their Merchant Registration up to date and show evidence of having incurred or [that they] will incur extraordinary expenses, as a result of COVID-19,” he added.


The Treasury Department memo is available on the website www.hacienda.pr.gov, publications section, Parés Alicea said.


Coordination of the new aid is being carried out in conjunction with the commonwealth Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority (AAFAF by its Spanish initials).


“This aid seeks to alleviate the economic burden that the pandemic has represented for those businesses in the private sector that have continued to pay their employees despite having their operations interrupted,” AAFAF Executive Director Omar Marrero Díaz said. “We keep working constantly to provide alternatives for economic relief to all sectors.”


Marrero Díaz noted that the guidelines for applying for financial aid under the PPP are available on AAFAF’s official website (aafaf.pr.gov).


To date, the Puerto Rico government has disbursed over $993 million in federal funds through the CARES Act Strategic Disbursement Plan.

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