The National Insurance Board (NIB) will facilitate the extension of the government’s unemployment assistance program until July 1, NIB Director Nicola Virgill-Rolle said yesterday.
Following emergency lockdown measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government made provisions to pay self-employed workers with businesses adversely impacted by the measures.
Virgill-Rolle said she is not certain how much the extension would cost the government.
“For the extension, that is a government-funded program and so, they provide us with funds for the unemployment assistance program for self-employed people,” Virgill-Rolle said during a virtual press briefing yesterday.
“So, as we find that we calculate how much is necessary, we then are provided with funds from the government for that program.”
But given that all of the funds allocated for the program have not been used, the NIB director said there is sufficient surplus to carry on with the extension.
“The government, in its budget, allotted between $6 million to $10 million for the unemployment assistance program. We’re now up to about $7.3 million and so, we have some room there in terms of additional head room there from what was initially budgeted. We bill them periodically in terms of the funds that are necessary to carry out that project,” she said.
“So, we will estimate how much we anticipate will be needed to carry us through the first of July date, that is really hot off the press in terms of the extension and so, we will then estimate how much more is needed, based on how much we’ve used for the additional four or so weeks, five weeks, that may be necessary from what we had originally anticipated and planned for.
“But I think we’ve done relatively well in terms of using about $7.2 million of the $10 million they had budgeted, so we have some head room.”
Barbers and beauticians have been added to the list of workers eligible for the unemployment assistance program, so long as they commit to registering with NIB and apply for a business license, Virgill-Rolle said.
They would also be required to provide proof that they are renting a chair at an established business.
The NIB executive noted, however, that NIB is not extending the unemployment benefit at this time. Still, she said, with the funds standing at $1.7 billion, NIB has sufficient funds to cover its own programs.
The details of the extended program were revealed as NIB announced an expansion of its customer service locations.
“Over the next three days, the National Insurance Board (NIB) will provide customer service from the Thomas A. Robinson stadium on Mychal Thompson Blvd. (adjacent to Customs House) to its claimants in New Providence who are on the published list found on the NIB’s website and Facebook page. Claimants may visit the stadium on their designated day from Tuesday, May 26, 2020 to Thursday, May 28, 2020, between the hours of 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.,” NIB revealed in a statement released yesterday.
“Expanding service from the T.A. Robinson Stadium allows for proper social distancing and more windows for agents to provide service to thousands of customers. Persons are asked to adhere to the last name protocol on the published list and are asked to present an official government identification (an NIB smart card, passport or driver’s license) to the NIB agent at the time of service. All other business will continue from NIB’s headquarters on Baillou Hill Road.”