On Wednesday afternoon, the Trump administration and U.S. Senate somehow managed to strike a deal on a massive financial aid package – about $2 trillion – to give the nation's economy a jump start following the COVID-19 economic downturn.
For many on Guam who have been laid off or working with reduced hours, this development is welcome news. What happened in Washington, D.C., means Guam's displaced workers are one step closer to getting temporary financial assistance.
The final version of the deal wasn't available as of press time, but a draft contains a provision that provides $1,200 for every adult citizen, $2,400 for married couples and $500 per child.
That cash, if this legislation is signed into law, will help.
But it should be noted that many of our households, according to previous economic data, make just barely enough to survive from paycheck to paycheck particularly in light of the higher cost of goods on Guam.
This means our local government must remain proactive in combining what the federal government will provide and what local efforts in economic assistance, loosening of regulations or in-kind help can be mobilized.
With the complexity of the federal aid package, we'd like to suggest that the local government set up a helpline – by phone, through social media and a website – so people can ask questions and prepare documents this early.
One of the federal economic stimulus provisions provides an unemployment cash benefit. What our local residents could use from the local government is knowledge on how this would benefit Guam workers, what are the criteria for qualification. Many have asked questions related to this issue. Are non-U.S. citizens qualified? How much and for how long will the aid be? What other forms of help are being provided? Guamanians need answers.
The administration and local senators were quick to set up a one-stop center for the war claims payments.
They should do something similar for the thousands of displaced Guam workers. Every day is now a struggle for many Guam households who aren't getting paid and are home wondering where money for next month's bill payments will come from.
With many businesses closed, there aren't many low-wage workers who are working and getting paid.
The ban on congregating and socializing should not be a barrier for GovGuam to set up a helpline for displaced workers. Again, this system can be made accessible via phone, social media and a website.
Workers need help with information and a guiding hand. When people worry about bills and how they're going to be paid, the more help they would need on figuring out how and where they can get help.
Get on it, Guam elected officials.