The island’s business sector sees the release of the third round of economic impact payments as a welcome development that could help keep many businesses afloat during these difficult times.
The Guam Chamber of Commerce, the biggest business organization on the island, says it appreciates the support that the federal government has provided to the residents of Guam.
“We anticipate that eligible residents will use their stimulus funds in various ways including securing much-needed home supplies, as well as bill payments and resources for their children,” Chamber President Catherine Castro said in a statement sent to PNC.
Monte Mesa, the general manager of Guam Premier Outlets, also welcomes the distribution of the third EIP, saying that this will hopefully stimulate the local economy.
“We hope that our local people receiving their 3rd EIP will shop and eat at both GPO and Tumon Sands Plaza retail stores and restaurants. Our retail stores, with the exception of Ross, have had a very challenging 12 months and counting without our tourist visitors arriving back to our island,” Mesa said.
He added: “The EIP being issued locally will surely be a welcome boost to our local economy. We need it!”
Despite the release of EIP 3 and other COVID relief funding for Guam, the Chamber remains very much concerned about the stability of local businesses.
“Almost all businesses are struggling to survive. We continue to be concerned about what happens when the federal stimulus comes to a close,” Castro said.
This was the same warning given by Congressman Michael San Nicolas who said that the U.S. government may no longer give out COVID aid when the American Rescue Plan lapses in September.
Because of this, the Chamber would like the local government to provide more support for local businesses so they can hire employees and have jobs available when federal support is no longer available in the form of unemployment assistance programs.
“The reduced capacity that many businesses are still operating from does not allow them to be at peak performance nor does it allow for increased revenue to support the hiring of employees or reinvestment in their businesses,” Castro said.
For this reason, Castro said the Chamber will continue to work with the Guam Legislature to pursue the rollback of the gross receipts tax.
Chamber Chair Christine Baleto informed the group’s members that a GRT rollback has been proposed in three different bills before the Legislature and the Chamber plans to provide testimony on all of them.
“The reduction of this tax on businesses will demonstrate the government’s commitment to lifting our island out of devastation, and further invigorating the island’s economic recovery through the support of local businesses,” Baleto said during the Chamber’s general membership meeting.
She added that although the Chamber understands the concern for reduced revenues for government operations, the $661 million support through the American Rescue Plan will provide GovGuam with the ability to recover lost revenues and improve government services.
According to Baleto, the GRT rollback will support more job creation for the thousands of residents who have suffered hardships and stress because of the pandemic.
Furthermore, as employment is reinstated and businesses become healthy, Baleto said the government will benefit from increased tax collections as a result of higher business revenue and employee payroll taxes.