In March 2020, the National Disaster Committee established the Economic Impact Assessment ad hoc Committee and tasked the committee to conduct an assessment in order to identify the impacts of COVID-19 on the RMI economy. The report, “Impact of COVID-19 on the RMI Economy” published in May 2020, determined a loss in GDP in the Private Sector associated with Tourism and other related sales of goods and services in the Marshall Islands.
Based on the report, the Cabinet approved an initial $6 Million Economic Relief package. This relief package would be given out as Pandemic Economic Relief Assistance in FY 2020 to RMI Businesses in Majuro and Kwajalein, giving priority to the Tourism sector. Tourism Sector includes Hotels, Bar and Restaurants, Backpackers, Handicraft shops, Beauty salons, Souvenir shops, Airport vendors, Travel agents, Shipping Agents, and Tour operators (dive operators, boat charters). Also eligible for Relief Assistance are Tourism sector suppliers and any other businesses that can show evidence of being impacted by COVID-19.
On Friday, 10 July 2020, H.E. President David Kabua and members of the Cabinet convened to hand out the first two economic relief assistance checks to two private businesses that are experiencing losses due to travel restrictions and other restrictions imposed to prevent the introduction of COVID-19 into the RMI. Robert Reimers Enterprises, a local business that operates a hotel, gas stations, boat charter, etc., and Amata Kabua International Airport: Restaurant, Bar, and Souvenir shop were the first 2 businesses to receive their economic relief package. More private businesses are in review to receive the economic relief assistance from the RMI government in the coming days.
While the primary purpose of the Pandemic (COVID-19) Economic Relief Program (PCERP) is to provide relief assistance to suffering businesses, it is also an opportunity to encourage companies to take measures to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 restrictions in order to improve their overall financial resiliency. With each business filing of applications and financial statements, it is more evident that RMI businesses are taking prudent measures such as reducing expenses and applying cost-saving measures to remain functional in the face of the current hardships.