The government and the National Insurance Board (NIB) have paid out nearly $150 million in unemployment benefits since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said on Wednesday.
Turnquest, who was addressing the House of Assembly, said the government paid $15.4 million to support 7,115 self-employed people who would not ordinarily qualify for NIB’s unemployment benefit.
The government also funded a special extension of unemployment benefits for unemployed persons who had exhausted their standard NIB benefit. Turnquest said 28,478 people benefited from the initiative, with payments to date totaling $37.9 million.
“For the information of the House, under the regular unemployment benefit scheme funded directly through NIB contributions, some 38,598 persons have applied to date,” Turnquest added.
“From its own resources, NIB has paid out some $93.3 million directly to those beneficiaries. Combined, these programs have supported approximately 43,200 persons, and poured some $146.5 million into the domestic economy.”
Mass layoffs incurred throughout the country as a result of the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Turnquest said last week the government increased its financial support to the National Food Distribution Task Force from $1 million weekly to $1.3 million due to increased demand.
Approximately 110,000 people benefited from the food support program.
“Data from the Department of Social Services indicates that to date, approximately $11.9 million has been disbursed through the task force to participating non-governmental organizations, who have been working tirelessly to assist those in need,” Turnquest said.