Today Granger Whitelaw at The Lotus Talks updates us on a few things affecting us all In Vietnam – and Reviews the $2 Trillion US Stimulus Package. Grab your coffee and listen In.
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Below is a transcript of the episode, edited for readability.
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Granger Whitelaw: Good morning, Friday morning, March 27th, 2020. This is Granger Whitelaw with The Lotus Talks here in Saigon, Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam. It has been an unbelievably active week for everybody. I’m not telling you anything you don’t know. Certainly. we’re all out dealing with many of the same issues and trying to figure out what is the next step for each of us and our businesses here and abroad. as this Coronavirus issue continues. a big thing that I’ve been hearing about, a couple of them, are visa extensions for, foreigners. certainly there’s a lot of conversation going on about that. all international flights have been stopped now, in and out of Vietnam. So if you’re here, you’re here. So what do you do if you, need any of these extensions, what can your employer do to help you I would suggest talking to your consulate, the US Consulgeneral coach Schumann.
Granger Whitelaw: certainly go to the step.state.gov website and you can enroll in the smart traveler enrollment program and, they’ll keep you updated if you have an Australia or if you’re from England would have you talk to your consulate. I believe that the Vietnamese government will do something to help support or pardon people who overstaying their current visas. because this is an unprecedented event. I don’t know. but certainly stay informed. Granger Whitelaw: As for the spread. and containing it highly recommend that you, if you can work from home, do not go out in public. The government certainly has said no gatherings or anyone of 20 or more. so that seems to be the smart thing to do and there are a lot of delivery options for food. don’t know what’s going to happen if they’re going to actually do a bigger lockdown in Ho Chi Minh, but they have said for the time being and over the next two weeks, they do not want you, out in public if possible.
Granger Whitelaw: Really essential businesses just can stay open. but, others should try to work from home if they can. And certainly, if you’re going to have small pockets of workers together, make sure that they are practicing social distancing and safety.
Granger Whitelaw: Now to business, since this is a business podcast, let’s talk about what’s going on in the United States since it is a barometer for the rest of the world. And, certainly, myself being an American is a major issue. Congress, have finished the $2 million or temporary $2 trillion stimulus bill, to respond to this coronavirus pandemic. It was past 96 -0, in the Senate. And it’s amazing that putting $2 trillion out to try to stop this impact to our business and to our people. I don’t know, if you, have elected the foreign exemption on your taxes, if you would participate in the direct payments to individuals, but under the plan, single Americans would receive $1,200 and married couples, will get $2,400.
Granger Whitelaw: Parents should also get another $500 for each child under 17. So that’s a nice package. fine print. The payments would start to phase out for individuals with adjusted gross incomes of more than $75,000. And if you make a 99,000 or more, you wouldn’t qualify at all. So for couples or married couples, just double those numbers. On a positive student loan payments will be suspended, without penalty through September 30th according to the bill. that’s a very positive thing, The student loan payment, obviously, fix your credit and is the biggest overhanging debt. I think in the United States it’s been a major issue for years and giving relief to, people for student loan payments certainly is important.
Granger Whitelaw: The real ID deadline has been delayed. it’s a federally mandated identification you’ll need for passengers to fly on aircraft and that’s been extended until 2021. September, 2021. So that’s a one-year extension.
Granger Whitelaw: Unemployment benefits, unemployment insurance. The federal government has given job was workers an extra $600 a week for four months on top of their state benefits, which range from 200 to $550 a week on average. That is a big, big difference. And the lawmakers want it to add up to 13 weeks of extended benefits, which would be fully covered by the government. The deal also calls for new pandemic unemployment assistance program, which would provide jobless benefits to those who were unemployed, partially unemployed or unable to work because of the virus and don’t qualify for total benefits. This includes independent contractors and self-employed who typically don’t qualify for this and to “gig” economy workers who aren’t eligible in many States. This is really, really important and can make a massive difference.
Granger Whitelaw: There’s also a $500 billion, loan program with loan guarantees and investments.Specifically 25 billion for passenger air carriers, 4 billion for cargo, cargo, air carriers in 17 billion for businesses that work in national security. The remainder of the 454 billion are given wide latitude to provide loans to businesses, States and municipalities. these include juristic restrictions on businesses who received the loans. The businesses may not issue dividends for up to a year after the loan is no longer outstanding and must retain 90% of employment levels as of March 24th quote to the extent practicable through September 30th and the loans cannot last longer than five years.
Granger Whitelaw: So you can take the money, but the point is to keep your employees employed and you must do it until the end of September to qualify and not be penalized. There are provisions, for direct loans to midsize businesses to find is between 500 and 10,000 employees, as well as nonprofits where no payments will be due for six months after the loan is issued and there’ll be oversight commission monitoring this. So that is really important information if you have a small business or working for a US company, to be able to access the capital.
Granger Whitelaw: Airports and airlines, are getting me through 2 billion in grants for wages and benefits. Includes 25 billion for passenger airlines and 4 billion for cargo and 3 billion for the industry, for their contractors who handle catering and packaging, et cetera.
Granger Whitelaw: And the hospitals are getting $117 billion. According to an estimate from the American Hospital Association. It creates $100 billion public health and social emergency fund to reimburse providers for expenses and lost revenues related to the pandemic about 65 billion would go to the hospitals with the rest funnel, the doctors and nurses, suppliers and others associated it. It also reimbursements by 20% for treating Medicare patients with coronavirus and it has eliminates 8 billion scheduled payment reductions to hospitals caring for large numbers of uninsured Medicaid patients and removing the temporary 2% cut.
Granger Whitelaw: These are really, really important steps, really important steps that are being taken.
Granger Whitelaw: The bills also has some protections against foreclosures and mortgages and evictions for renters States that anyone facing financial hardship from Coronavirus shall be given a forbearance on a federally backed mortgage loan of up to 60 days, which can be extended for four periods of 30 days. Each legislation also says servicers are federally backed mortgages, Loans, may not begin to foreclose for 60 days or March 18. does not allow for penalties or additional interest to be charged as a result of delayed payments and the federally backed mortgage loans who have tenants would also not be allowed to evict tenants solely for failure to pay rent for 120 day period. So that’s four months and they may not charge fees or penalties to the tenants for paying failure to paying rent.
Granger Whitelaw: There’s more money for food. There’s $450 million for the emergency food assistance program, which supplies food to Food-banks, which are expected to see more clients is job losses. Amount $350 million would buy additional food in 100 million would be used for distribution. Additional $200 million for food assistance for Puerto Rico and other us territories as well as $100 million of your food distribution on American Indian reservations.
Granger Whitelaw: For evacuations of Americans, the bill includes $324 million for state department as well as money specifically for evacuation expenses. The proposed legislation doesn’t specify who would be evacuated or whether its diplomats or American citizens living overseas or potentially both. I guess about 9,500 Americans have already been repatriated. and there’s about 13,500 Americans seeking assistance abroad Currently.
Granger Whitelaw: there’s an additional 88 million for peace Corps and independent U S government agency that sends volunteers from America abroad. all they, they have suspended their operations. There’s, you’re also provides an additional $324 million for diplomatic, 250 million for international disaster assistance, $350 million for migration and refugee assistance and $95 million for U S aid operating expenses. It also authorizes the agencies to administer ‘oaths of office remotely’, but they must submit a report to the relevant committees.
Granger Whitelaw: A lot of information out there. I’m trying to give you the highlights that can affect us here. Affect your businesses back at home, and your families and loved ones. other countries are certainly following suit. Singapore is passing a major bill, France, Italy. I just, I see it happening all over the place, which is great. Certainly we’re going to need support to get through this from the governments.
Granger Whitelaw: Here in Vietnam. they do feed the people who are being quarantined now. I actually received a picture of a, a meal that was really very well packaged. It had a little logo on it. it says stay strong, Vietnam with doctors, in their outfits. And it was sponsored by the gangs, a restaurant, which is really neat. So The gangs, I guess sponsored this one and I’m sure they’re looking for other people to sponsor these meals that are being sent to people in quarantine.
Granger Whitelaw: I know a lot of restaurants are doing delivery now here. You know, one of my favorites, Eddie’s Diner in town, is delivering all over Ho Chi Minh, and to quarantined people as well – that’s phenomenal. I’ve heard that other restaurants like 4P’s are delivering and well just many, many, many. So if you’re looking for food delivery, certainly call up and see who’s going to stay up with their food delivery. But you can’t go to restaurants any longer. Just sit and eat, which I think is a smart thing. you know, stay at home, cook if you can.
Granger Whitelaw: That’s all I have for today. I will leave you with this. this will pass if we really kind of keep our heads down and let it pass. We don’t want to have a major, issue here in Vietnam. It’s a small country and it’s not a wealthy country.
Granger Whitelaw: If you flew into this country after March 8th, please fill out the health report. right away. The government is asking everyone to do that. They need to trace, you and others that you’ve come in contact with anywhere you’ve gone. That’s the way that, this thing can really be shut down and we need to shut it down. we don’t want to have a major breakout here in Vietnam. That would be devastating for all of us.
Granger Whitelaw: So that’s it. I am sending my prayers and love to all of you. I am wishing you only the best. If there’s anything I can do to help you, you know how to contact me at the Vietnam group and The Lotus Talks.
Granger Whitelaw: Have a great weekend, spend some time with your family. This is a great time to do projects and really spend time with your kids and with your loved ones and do some fun and interesting things that you haven’t had the opportunity to do before, which is a really positive outcome of the situation right now. And one I’ve been talking to with my friends about about some really neat things that they’ve experienced, really getting to know themselves – and their families and kids better. Granger Whitelaw:
Granger Whitelaw for the Lotus Talks. Speak to you on Monday. Have a great weekend.
The Lotus Talks is produced by The Vietnam Group and Hosted by Granger Whitelaw.
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