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Despite widespread unemployment, Guamanians bound to enjoy a bountiful Christmas

Guam residents stand in line waiting to enter Ross at Micronesia Mall. Photo by Mar-Vic Cagurangan

Guam is sinking in the worst economic crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic that brought about mass bankruptcy and widespread unemployment.

Yet, the government of Guam is wealthier than it has ever been. And for Guamanians, who are swimming in cash, Christmas won’t seem so bad.

The empty shelves at department stores, the people’s rush to restaurants when they reopened and the long lines at the banks represent the perplexing contradictions of the Covid-era economy.

Thanks to the CARES Act’s historic fiscal relief that has been afforded to Guamanians. The CARES Act provided America’s unemployed with monthly income support, and $1,200 EIP checks.

Last week, the Guam Department of Revenue and Taxation said it has processed 2,407 economic impact program payments totaling about $2.95 million. Since April, DRT has processed 85,503 EIP payments totaling about $145 million, representing 97.01 percent of the total funding received from the U.S. Treasury.

“In line with the CARES Act, DRT will continue to process EIP Program payments through Dec. 31, 2020,” according to the governor’s office.

DRT has also processed 168 payments under the Ayuda I Mangafa Help for Families Program (AIM Program) totaling $98,500. To date, DRT has

processed 1,055 AIM Program payments totaling $607,500.

"DRT will continue to process AIM Program payments through March 31, 2021. Payments are based on applications that are considered complete and have been reviewed and processed," the governor's office said.

AIM Program, rolled out on Sept. 29, provides funding assistance to eligible Guam families with young adults, students and disabled individuals over the age of 16 years old who are claimed as dependents. These families with these dependents were overlooked under the CARES Act of 2020 and did not receive the economic impact payment for these dependents

Also last week, the Guam Department of Labor batched $11.6 million in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Lost Wages Assistance. The funds are expected to land into the people's pockets by Christmas.

PUA is a 39-week unemployment program that is set to expire on Dec. 31.

“It was the governor’s and the department’s top priority to get out these unemployment funds by Christmas. My team took on the immense project of clearing more than two months worth of unemployment claims and we’re proud to say it was a success,” Labor Director David Dell’Isola said.

GDOL said it has requested the drawdown and funds should hit accounts early next week.

"The successful counter measures put in place to prevent fraud and the smooth running of this batch has provided enough confidence for GDOL to try and run another LWA payment for the holidays. We aim to batch Tuesday, Dec. 22 for all cleared LWA claims through Dec. 9," the department said.



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