Where is our COVID relief money? ask MoBay craft sellers | News


Albert Ferguson / Gleaner Screenwriter

Reeling from the economic crisis triggered by the COVID pandemic, dozens of vendors at the Old Forte craft market in Montego Bay, St James are demanding their share of the $22 million pledged by Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett.

The money was allocated by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) to help handicraft traders, who have been affected by the pandemic.

To qualify for this benefit, craft vendors were required to have taken the COVID-19 vaccine and possess a valid license from the Jamaica Tourist Board.

According to Paulett Ricketts, one of the many disgruntled craft vendors, 19 of the market’s 150 vendors received the subsidy.

“Harbour Street gets, Success Market gets, Ocho Rios gets and everything now, only 19 vendors here got and we all signed up for the benefits,” Ricketts said. the gleaner.

She said she and her colleagues doubted they’d ever get the $30,000 promised to each licensed and vaccinated craft vendor.

According to Ricketts, the TEF advised that all money has now been paid.

Marilyn Falconer, president of the Old Forte Craft Vendors Association, said the gleaner that almost all of its members are vaccinated and have been licensed to operate tourism-related businesses.

However, she said protracted negotiations with the St James Municipal Corporation over a new five-year lease may have proven to be a problem in their bid to qualify for the grant.

“The names of the vendors were not sent to the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) in time. They did not arrive until February,” Falconer said. the gleaner by phone on Friday.

She said that for craft vendors to get their new licenses, they needed two consecutive rent receipts, but many could not meet the requirement because they were unable to consistently pay the rent for the craft. parish council in the midst of the COVID crisis.

Godfrey Dyer, chairman of the TEF, said the $22 million was spent among craft vendors who met the requirements stipulated at the time of the program.

“All the vendors that are licensed and vaccinated got it. We paid a total of $22 million, it’s a one-time program. It’s over,” Dyer said.

However, when told that the vendors claimed they were licensed, Dyer promised to review the matter once they could prove that at the time of the program they were licensed to practice their trade and that they were vaccinated.

A beneficiary, Ambrozine Mills is grateful to have received the grant.

“I am fully vaccinated, but my license is from 2019, before the places were locked down with COVID,” she told sellers.

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