The Government of Grenada is sending a stern warning to businesses which have made false declarations to benefit from the economic stimulus package and which have also inappropriately used funds received as part of this package.
The warning comes against the background of several irregularities discovered by the COVID-19 Economic Support Secretariat (CESS), in processing and validating applications submitted by businesses for payroll support.
The discrepancies have resulted in delays in the processing of applications as this led to the addition of another layer of validation to the verification process.
Among the anomalies identified are the inclusion of service charge as part of payroll support claim; submitted data not matching records at the National Insurance Scheme and misrepresentation of the salaries of senior and management level staff to make them eligible for stimulus payments, despite being expressly excluded from the benefit.
Additionally, some businesses have also submitted inflated salaries for employees but have actually remitted a smaller amount to them. Employees have also reported to the secretariat that some employers have paid them less than the 40% of salary provided for in the stimulus package for disbursement to approved applicants.
In addition, some entities have not paid NIS for their employees since 2019 although employee records show deductions being made. This caused further delays in verification of employee information provided by employers.
Employers are reminded that misuse of any funds paid in the stimulus package meant to be for the benefit of employees, warrants forthwith repayment to the Government, if the funds are not used for the intended purpose.
The violations are causing much concern for the secretariat as it appears to be quite pervasive, with numerous businesses attempting to defraud the system.
In one instance, more than 100 employees at a single establishment were affected by discrepancies uncovered during the processing and validation of applications.
The COVID-19 Economic Support Secretariat and by extension, the Ministry of Finance is calling on employers to desist from the unlawful practice because it is not only unfair to employees who are already hard hit by the impact of the pandemic, but it also creates an unnecessary burden for the COVID-19 Economic Support Secretariat to create additional layers of verification, a factor which subsequently causes delays in processing.