Government plans to extend unemployment benefit program until September – Eye Witness News
NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Minister of State for Finance Kwasi Thompson said yesterday that the government should extend its unemployment assistance program until September.
The unemployment program was due to end in June after a period of 15 months.
“It was really designed to be maybe a three or four month measure, but unfortunately… the pandemic continued. It is still going on and we had to extend it well over 12 months, we had to extend it, ”he said.
“We expect that until September we will continue these existing unemployment benefits.
“But again, like we said, it’s really about trying to move from government by continuing to pay unemployment benefits to government by now finding ways to stimulate the private sector to create jobs.
“And so you’ll see where there is funding to temporarily maintain these unemployment benefits, but then the additional funding is for us to provide the tax breaks to stimulate the private sector to continue and accelerate its pace of employment.
The minister said the transition from purely government support to long-term sustainable employment in the private sector was important.
According to Financial Secretary Marlon Johnson, for beneficiaries of the unemployment program who leave the program when it ends, social services have been stepped up for the next fiscal period to meet the continued need for assistance.
The Department of Social Services will receive an allocation of over $ 20 million in its budget over the coming period, increasing from $ 60.3 million to $ 81.4 million.
In Parliament, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis pointed out that the Bahamas has extended the unemployment benefit program far beyond other Caribbean jurisdictions.
The government is injecting more than $ 118 million in government-funded unemployment assistance to “put money directly into the hands of unemployed and self-employed Bahamians affected by the economic recession.”
The amount did not include vested benefits which were paid by the National Insurance Board under its regular unemployment benefit program.
“We will continue and ultimately move from helping unemployment to implementing employment growth policies that maintain and expand economic opportunities,” the Prime Minister said.
“These will include incentives for companies that employ additional staff.”