NIB pays out $8.7 mil. in UEB extension program
The National Insurance Board (NIB) has paid out approximately $8.7 million to 18,000 Bahamian workers as a part of the government’s Unemployment Benefits (UEB) Extension Programme, which began two weeks ago.
The government allocated $48 million for the expansion of its unemployment assistance program, which provides supplemental income for Bahamians who became unemployed due to the COVID-19 shutdown between March 23 and June 30 and continue to be unemployed.
NIB Director Dr. Nicola Virgill-Rolle said based on the actual time when COVID-19-related layoffs started to be recorded – which is March 13 – 5,000 more workers were added to its database to receive assistance.
“NIB is working around the clock with a dedicated team that is committed to assisting as many people as possible, including processing a backlog of emails based on the volume of queries. We are asking for the public’s understanding and patience,” she said in a press statement.
“So far we have disbursed over $8.7 million in one week since restarting the program. That is remarkable as it continues to demonstrate the commitment of our team to deliver the much-needed relief to almost 18,000 Bahamian workers receiving direct cash assistance in these difficult times.”
There are 35,000 Bahamians enrolled in NIB’s recently launched online portal, which administers the program, however, Virgill-Rolle said there have been several challenges regarding employment verification.
“We need workers to declare their current employment status. If they do not verify, the system assumes they are back to work and they will not be included in the payment roster. Verification is an important step, so we urge everyone to log into the system and declare whether they remain unemployed,” she said.
“Workers must verify before each two-week payment cycle to ensure the smooth release of assistance payments.”
NIB stated it has also resolved a system issue that changed the form of payment for some direct bank deposit clients.
“Many clients received notifications that their payments were going to a digital wallet through our fintech partner IslandPay. The issue was resolved for about 1,800 impacted clients. Another challenge continues to be incorrect registration data,” NIB added.
“The online system looks for direct matches when it comes to inputting dates of birth, names and NIB numbers. NIB is encouraging individuals with challenges registering to reach out for assistance via email to [email protected] A review process has also been established with NIB and Ministry of Finance staff to review cases that were deemed ineligible.”
Earlier this month, Minister of Public Service and National Insurance Brensil Rolle estimated that NIB would pay out approximately $100 million because of the COVID-19 pandemic.