By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero today signed an executive order launching the third round of Prugråman Salåppe’ Ayudon I Taotao with raised direct cash assistance from $300 to $500 and expanded eligibility.
Amid increasing pressure from senators to disburse more federal Covid-19 relief funds, the governor first announced the extension of the stimulus program in her state of the island address on Wednesday.
Leon Guerrero earlier rejected Sen. Frank Blas Jr.'s previous suggestion to provide more direct assistance to the island's low-income families, saying the American Rescue Plan funds have already been fully earmarked for other purposes.
On Monday, 11 senators led by Sen. Telo Taitague wrote to the governor, asking her to open a new round of the Prugråman Salåppe’ to help mitigate the impact of the rapidly climbing prices of basic commodities.
The governor's office said the Department of Administration will accept new applications from June 27 to July 27.
The new program extends to qualified residents who did not receive assistance under the last round.
“With our island’s businesses reopening and activities resuming, our focus is shifting to implementing aggressive recovery efforts that will enhance and stabilize our economy. The high cost of fuel is hindering similar efforts across the nation,” Leon Guerrero said.
“We understand the uncertainties our people must overcome on the road to recovery. We will continue to stand with you and do everything within our power to help the most vulnerable among us get through this difficult time and ensure a prosperous future for all.”
“Prugråman Salåppe’ 3 builds on our efforts to revive our economy, help our people get back to work, and assist those in our community most impacted by the pandemic,” said Lt. Gov. Josh Tenorio.
“The rising prices at the pump are affecting more and more people with each increase. To maximize our efforts to bring relief to as many families facing hardship as possible, we increased the income levels as allowable under poverty guidelines, expanded eligibility, and are reaching more working families with the direct cash assistance they need right now.”
Prugramån Salåppe’ 3 authorizes the distribution of additional direct aid cash assistance in a single lump-sum payment of $500 to qualifying individuals and households to alleviate the rising cost of gas and affected utilities.
According to the governor's office, applicants who received aid for the last round of Prugråman Salåppe’ do not have to submit a new application to receive the additional aid.
Past recipients will receive this supplemental aid through the method identified in their previous application. New applicants must meet established program eligibility requirements.
Both new and existing applicants shall be subject to verification of eligibility at DOA’s discretion, the governor's office said.