July 17, 2020
NIS to extend unemployment benefit programme for a further three months

THE NATIONAL INSURANCE Services (NIS) has recommended to the Minister of Finance that the Unemployment Benefits programme to be extended for a further three months.

SEARCHLIGHT confirmed this on Thursday, after Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said on NBC radio that various safety net initiatives put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic were being extended.

“We are extending to October, the programme for unemployment benefit and we are extending the payments for vendors until October. The 600 persons who are getting the help through public assistance; the $200 where they will be grandfathered into the public health system next year, from January 1 in the new budget. They were already declared to be [getting assistance] up to December, but the others, which were to the end of July, going now to the end of October,” Gonsalves said.

The NIS’s temporary unemployment benefit programme was announced in April for persons whose employment was directly affected because of the coronavirus pandemic.

And a statistical report from the institution showed that as at July 10, 2020, a total of 1280 persons across 19 sectors have benefitted from the temporary unemployment benefit.

The report indicated that more than $990,000 was paid out to the beneficiaries, as at July 10, 2020.

One thousand, six hundred and fifty-two (1652) claims were received by the NIS and the report noted that “the gap between claims received against claims approved reflects mainly the disallowed claims due to non-qualification of the claimant. The disallowed claims stood at approximately 372”.

Of the 19 economic sectors, education, self-employed and construction sectors had the majority of beneficiaries, numbering at 303, 212 and 189 respectively.

The least amount of beneficiaries were in the extra- territorial and electricity, gas, steam and air-conditioning, with one person receiving payouts in each sector.

The statistical report also highlighted that as at July 10, 2020, 1701 persons have benefitted from the Government Income Displacement programme to the tune of $1,509,825.

Of the 1701 beneficiaries, 1461 were from the accommodation and food services activities sector and 240 from the transport and storage sector.

While speaking on radio this week, the Prime Minister also said provisions were being made for a one-off payment to a number of farmers who were affected by the drought experienced in this country in the first part of the year.

Cabinet held discussions this week about whether seafarers who were repatriated should also receive government assistance.

“There are people who work on cruise ship coming and telling you, they don’t know when they’re going back and they’re looking for this and that job. It is true that they hadn’t put anything to the NIS but the fact of the matter is this; they are a significant group of people who have made a contribution and have to fight to see what we can do. They are very much in my mind,” Gonsalves said.