The National Insurance Board (NIB) paid out $175.8 million in unemployment benefits and assistance in the wake of Hurricane Dorian and the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Minister of Public Service and National Insurance Brensil Rolle.
NIB paid $12.5 million to 4,191 individuals impacted by Hurricane Dorian.
It paid $15.6 million to 7,235 individuals registered for its self-employed government-funded unemployment assistance program.
The majority of funds were spent on the government-funded unemployment extension program and NIB’s unemployment benefit program.
The government-funded program, which is designated for individuals impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, paid $56.1 million to 30,788 individuals as of October 11.
The program gives 13 weeks of support to individuals who have already received the legal limit of 13 weeks of unemployment benefit from NIB.
“The position of the government is that it wants to provide income for individuals,” Rolle said.
“We realize that it is not perhaps what individuals would be accustomed to or what they have been making, but you have to also take into context that we’ve been doing this now for six months…
“Basically, we started at $200 a week and it was reduced to $150 and now it’s to $100. We want to make sure that individuals have some assistance. The government has the ability to provide some assistance.
“We don’t see ourselves as the instrument where we may be able to provide a Rolls-Royce. We are now down to the Toyota and we will move and when it goes to December, it will be approximately nine months providing continuous assistance to individuals.”
NIB paid $91.6 million to 37,061 individuals, who have contributed to the fund.
The minister said beneficiaries are paid at a rate of 50 percent of their insurable wage for up to 13 weeks.
Roughly 2,500 checks remain uncollected.
“During the past six months of the pandemic, National Insurance made more than 96,000 transactions for sickness, maternity, injury, funeral, disablement, retirement, invalidity and survivor’s benefits and assistance payments totaling some $36 million,” Rolle said.
“In the early stages of this pandemic, the monthly pension payment was paid early to provide much-needed funds in the hands of the beneficiaries and to inject some $68.6 million directly into the economy.
“Since the beginning of COVID-19, some $90 million has been paid in retirement benefits and grants for old age pensions. These numbers do not include the unemployment payments.”