$8million injected into local economy through ‘COVID-19 Assistance via Businesses’ Programme

More than $3million pa‘anga has been injected to date to family-based informal businesses in Tonga.

Nearly $5million pa‘anga has been given as direct assistance to registered businesses, and around $300,000 assistance to wage subsidies.

These packages help pump much-needed cash into the local economy at a time of economic strain brought on by COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

The informal sector is easily the larger portion of the economy, comprised of small and micro family operations, employing and managed mainly by women.

The assistance hopes to benefit them as finding cash to continue operations continues to be very difficult in the current economic environment with the COVID 19 restrictions still going.

Ms. Tapaita Kitekei‘aho of Houma, a handicraft operator reported that since the lockdown, her family has pivoted their little family operation towards agriculture as tourism and the travel market is still closed due to COVID-19. This assistance from the government greatly assisted that effort. “This will go towards ploughing and tilling the soil for our crops, we’ve turned to agriculture to keep the family going and livelihood surviving.”

Prime Minister of Tonga Rev. Pohiva Tu‘i‘onetoa had stated that “Recovery will take time depending on the vulnerability of businesses identified by the ILO Independent Survey: COVID-19 Assessment of Impact on Businesses and Employment in Tonga’ finalized in March 2021 and this phase of assistance is to help businesses improve operations and quick recovery.”

A total of $9.2 million was committed for this Phase 3 of the business and wages support fund assistance program with support provided by various development partners, and the Government of Australia.

The payout process is near completion with the redress for grievances available until the end of this month, 30 July 2021,