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Bahamian Politics Last Updated: Jan 20, 2021 - 12:28:08 PM

DNA on COVID Assistance Program and NIB
By Steven Michael Nesbitt, Spokesperson for Labor and National Insurance Democratic National Alliance
Jan 20, 2021 - 8:30:44 AM

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The government has projected an end to unemployment benefits, food assistance and business support programs implemented to assist Bahamians that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic by the end of March 2021.

We are in the middle of a major economic crisis and our people are struggling to make ends meet. There are thousands of unemployed workers, furloughed employees and terminated professionals across our nation. Several businesses have been forced to close and business owners have lost their life investments. Major hotels have reduced their staffing levels and the cruise ship industry has been shut down with uncertainty surrounding when “no sail orders" will be lifted.

In light of this reality, the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) is calling on the government to rethink its decision on providing much needed assistance to our people. The pandemic is taking a financial, mental and emotional toll on Bahamians driving some into depression and destitution.

Should the government discontinue the assistance programs as planned, employers will be forced to make their employees redundant, keep persons on with less hours and pay or simply close their businesses. This will undermine our efforts to jumpstart the economy and reduce the unemployment rate. This is the last thing we need at this time.

There is a clear connection between Labor and the National Insurance Board (NIB). We must strengthen our economy and keep our people employed or in business in order to sustain NIB. Bahamians who have contributed to NIB for years must be able to get their benefits on time and with dignity. This important institution needs to be reformed and should not be used as a slush fund by politicians. There cannot be any discussions of further increasing NIB contributions until the entity’s internal issues and operations are fixed.

Steven Michael Nesbitt
Spokesperson for Labor and National Insurance
Democratic National Alliance

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