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17,000: Help Us . . . And That Doesn’T Include Nib Claims From Hotel Workers

Public Services and National Insurance Minister Brensil Rolle.

Public Services and National Insurance Minister Brensil Rolle.

By LEANDRA ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

lrolle@tribunemedia.net

THE National Insurance Board has received around 17,000 applications for unemployment benefits due to the coronavirus pandemic, Public Service and National Insurance Minister Brensil Rolle said yesterday.

Noting officials are working hard to expedite the claims, Mr Rolle said the applications submitted to NIB do not include those of hotel workers.

This, he said, is because NIB officials are engaged in discussions with hotel personnel to assist with faster payments for affected workers.

He said: “As of (Monday), approximately 17,000 applications have come before the NIB board to be processed. That excludes the major hotels because we are negotiating with them separately.

“…We are working with the hotels so that arrangements will be made to pay off their staff who are unemployed in a quicker way. Small businesses have been coming to us and we hope to quickly process their applications.”

He continued: “You know we are working on two fronts.

“Firstly, we’re dealing with those persons who are seeking unemployment assistance who’ve been laid off generally and secondly. . . we’ve become the government vehicle for dealing with self-employed individuals in the touristic industry.

“And so, the jet ski operators, the beach workers, the taxi drivers - they’re all coming to NIB. What we have done though is establish a platform and a small form that they could download to their telephone, fill out the application (so) it can be processed as quickly as possible.

“There are three things we are looking for - we want to see a letter from the employer. When it comes to the self-employed individuals, we’re looking for an ID, an indication from inland revenue to check your business background.”

Initially, the government had only announced help for self-employed and employed individuals directly connected to the tourism sector.

However, recognising that thousands have been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest announced on Monday the government will expand its unemployment assistance programme to self-employed people outside of the tourism industry.

Still, it is not clear exactly when workers will be able receive the payments, with Mr Rolle telling reporters yesterday that officials are hoping to finalise the process very soon.

“One of the things we discussed yesterday in NIB is how we could make the process faster so that individuals through this period could get their money,” he said.

“…In terms of hotels and other big establishments, we’re working closely with them so that they could in some instances issue cheques to their persons who’ve been laid off.

“In terms of the self-employed individuals, I think we are at the advanced stage. We have a wonderful team the director has put together to process and we anticipate that very quickly, these individuals will receive their money.”

Once applications have been processed and approved, Mr Rolle also said payments will be transferred to individual’s respective banking accounts.

“We’re trying to reduce face to face contact so that we’re asking people for example to give us their bank account, confirm where they are, we process and we, in many instances, will deposit directly to the bank account.”

The same procedure, Mr Rolle said, applies for those on Family Islands.

When asked what will happen to workers whose employers have not paid their NIB benefits, the minister replied: “We’re negotiating with these businesses. This process will really expose businesses who have not been forthright in making payments to NIB but this is a time where we can negotiate with those businesses and come up with arrangements and get things done.

“We want persons to acknowledge that a bill exists, and we will set some parameters upon which we can make those arrangements to sort of soften the blow of COVID-19.”

Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar has previously said the temporary unemployment rate could now probably be above 30 percent. He also said it was expected to grow, due to widespread hotel closures.

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic 1 year, 6 months ago

A corrupt government never wastes a 'good' crisis in which the people governed are panic stricken. NIB has been technically insolvent for sometime now with cash outflows exceeding cash inflows. It would not be the least bit surprising if the corrupt Minnis-led FNM government now very deliberately lets NIB liquidate whatever assets it can to fund a flood of benefit payments, mainly to loyal government supporters, so that the death of this Ponzi scheme can then be blamed on the Red China Virus.

Someone should ask the Director of NIB when was the last time the Board of NIB submitted audited financial statements of NIB to the House of Assembly and Public Accounts Committee, and for which financial year-end? Incidentally, when was the last independent professional actuarial valuation report done for NIB? That report too should be submitted to the HOA and PAC. Minnis certainly will not answer these questions.....he's just bad as Christie and Ingraham were...actually, more likely much worse!

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realitycheck242 1 year, 6 months ago

NIB now needs to liquidate one quarter of the worthless Bahamas Gvernment Registered Stock that they have been mandated to buy from the various governments over the decades. The chickens have come home to roost. The BGRS was always worthless when they bought it and its worthless today. The government cant even afford to buy back its own stock. Hundreds of millons of dollars will be needed to satisfy the payments to the over 17,000 claimants caused by the covert-19 crisis in addition to its present monthly obligations to pensioners, maternity, sickness, death benefits and other short term claims.

This is indeed a worse case scenario, for NIB and this is a result of what happens when politicians get power and play piggy bank with quasi government corporations.and tie up two thirds of its once liquid cash in worthless paper.

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hrysippus 1 year, 6 months ago

nib has been used as a source of money to prop up the salaries and pensions of the state employed workers, also known as the civil service. This is a fiscal weight around the neck of the Bahamian economy that has dragged it down for decades now. There is no solution in sight as long as some administrations continue to use a government job as a reward for party loyalty.

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realitycheck242 1 year, 6 months ago

in addition they follow the political directorate in power and build many government buildings and clinics. The clinics may be justified because the funds come the NIB medical branch . but NIB built Customs HQ, Min of Education HQ, Paul Adderly Building, Police HQ and dorms in freeport. Min of health HG, Sandilands rehab extension, many government office complexes in the family, the leonard Thompson airport in abaco and the list goes on. Many contracts were given to political cronies and all went over budget....SAD

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DDK 1 year, 6 months ago

Worse than sad, realitycheck242, CRIMINAL! What an ungodly mess these successive gangsters, posing as politicians employed by the Bahamian people, have created over the decades. Majority rule indeed. .

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