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Johnson: Fifty percent of population out of work

Minister of Immigration Elsworth Johnson said yesterday that with “50 percent of the population unemployed”, some work permits will not be renewed.

At last report, the government said nearly 30,000 people applied for unemployment benefits following the economic fallout of COVID-19.

“We know that 50 percent of the population is unemployed,” Johnson said outside Cabinet.

“Some work permits will not be renewed. Where we have fit and proper Bahamians to do the job, they will be given that opportunity to do the job.

“What we have done in the interim, because persons are sheltering in The Bahamas, the competent authority has extended annual work permits with the caveat and understanding that we have already refused some work permits.

“If you are a training manager, how many training managers we have in The Bahamas who can do that job now?

“And so we are going through that process now with [the Department of Labour], to do it as humanely as we possibly can.”

The government granted 10,225 work permits in 2018, the Department of Statistics reported.

The majority of work permits, 3,816, were granted to Haitians; followed by Filipinos, at 1,206; and Jamaicans, at 1,187.

Shortly after The Bahamas recorded its first case of the novel coronavirus in March, the government moved quickly to slow the spread of the virus. A state of emergency was declared, non-essential businesses were ordered closed, a curfew was imposed and social distancing measures were implemented.

Thousands of Bahamians were laid off almost overnight.

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said the unemployment rate could soar to 30 percent as a result of the pandemic.

The government has begun to slowly reopen the economy, and Minnis set a July 1 date for the resumption of international flights, which, according to the government’s plan for a phased reopening of the economy, is a feature of the fifth and final phase.

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Rachel Knowles

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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