After paying close to $3 million to over 2,000 workers adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, the National Insurance Service (NIS) has ceased payments under its temporary benefit programme which was established last year.
Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves told parliament last week that since the coronavirus came here March of 2020, the government has introduced a variety of innovative interventions designed to strengthen social protections for the vulnerable and assist affected persons in their management of Covid related economic challenges. He said government has offered an extended program of income support to Vincentians in the formal sector who have been laid off or have had their hours of work reduced as a result of the Covid-related cutbacks by their employers.
Gonsalves said that the NIS’ temporary benefit program and the government’s displacement supplementary income programs were originally conceived as a three-month program back in April of 2020 and so the income support initiatives are now in their 12th month.
He said that as at February 26th the programs had paid a total of $9, 826, 350 to 8,860 claims.
“To date, and to date meaning as of 26 of February 2021, the NIS temporary benefit program has paid 2.7 million dollars to 2,241 individuals. That’s the NIS of their support program. The government has paid out an additional 7 point 1 million dollars to claims from the hospitality sector and the hospitality sector is $4.6 million to 3,894 claims; and to seafarers and oil rig workers 2.5 million dollars at 2,325 claims,” Gonsalves said.
The finance minister also stated: “The government has decided to extend the program for another quarter through the end of June 2021. However, the NIS no longer has the flexibility to continue funding its portion of the initiative within the scope of its own prudential guidelines. As such for the upcoming quarter, the government will bear the full cost of the interventions. For the past 12 months, it was split between government and NIS resources and going forward this quarter, the government will bear the full cost of the intervention.
“These arrangements remain unchanged and we would like to thank and applaud the management, the leadership and the board of the National Insurance Services for their tremendous solidarity and patriotism in partnering with the government on this initiative over the past months particularly in the nine-month extension beyond the originally forecast duration of the program.”