NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Minister for the Public Service and National Insurance Brensil Rolle said yesterday that the government is seeking to ensure that needy families get some assistance amid the pandemic despite the reduction in unemployment assistance payments.
Rolle was speaking at a Minister’s Report press conference.
“The position of the government is that it wants to provide income for individuals,” he said.
“We realize that perhaps it is not what individuals would have been accustomed to or what they would have been making but you also have to put into context that we have been doing this now for six months and have been making payments to individuals for this period.”
Rolle continued: “We started at $200 and it was reduced to $150 and now $100 we want to make sure that individuals have the ability to get some assistance. We don’t see ourselves as maybe being able to provide the Rolls Royce, we’re now down to the Toyota and when it gets to December it would be nine months of continuous assistance.
“I hear the frustrations as well and I say we hear your cry. We know It’s tough but we too are taking the position that we must do some things and one of those things is we are proving some form of income support or families that may be out of work.”
Rolle noted that during the past six months of the pandemic, NIB made more than 96 thousand disbursements of sickness, maternity, injury, funeral, disablement, retirement, invalidity, and survivors benefits and assistance payments totaling some $36 million.
“In the early stages of the pandemic, the monthly pension payments were paid early to provide much-needed funds in the hands of beneficiaries and to inject some $68.6 million into the economy,” he said.
“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, some $90 million has been paid in retirement benefits, grants, and old-age pensions.
“These numbers do not include unemployment payments. Indeed, inclusive of Hurricane Dorian related unemployment payments, to date NIB has expended a total of $176 million to Bahamians throughout the length and breadth of The Bahamas who have lost their jobs,” he said.