Friday 3 July, 2020

COVID-19: PM Mottley announces welfare programmes to sustain citizens

Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley

Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley

Given the mass lay-offs that are expected as Barbados' tourism and services sector slowly suspends, Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced that Government has launched the $20-million Household Survival Programme. 

Speaking in the House of Assembly during the Appropriations 2020, Mottley declared that in anticipation of the increased demand for the Welfare Department's services, Government will add an increase of 40 per cent in all rates and fees paid by the Welfare Department to its clientele. 

Approximately 1,500 vulnerable families identified by the Household Litigation Unit and Welfare Department will receive $600 monthly. 

"The most important thing is for people to keep their heads above water. I wish I could do more but the most important thing now is not to leave anybody behind and all of us have to adjust in order to carry forward," the Prime Minister remarked. 

Government has also announced the launch of a Jobs, Investment and Business Survival Programme, where businesses that have been paused and affected by the COVID-19 outbreak will receive investment from Government to renovate and upgrade for the re-opening of their businesses. 

The Prime Minister stated that the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) employer's contribution will be waived for businesses that retain "three-quarters" of their staff during this period. The NIS will also cover 60 per cent of earnings for businesses in the tourism and service industry that will be operating. 

"A company might have the capacity to hold on for the short term if its three months or six months and they might put them on a three-day or two-day week but the days that they are not paid, the National Insurance Scheme will give them 60 per cent of their earnings for those days. . . . 

"For those employers who are prepared to retain three-quarters of their workforce even if some are on short-week, we are going to defer the obligation for them to pay the employers’ contribution for three months in the first instance with a preparation to extend for another three months if the crisis goes beyond the first three months so that those employers who keep three-quarters of their workforce on full or short week we will remove from you the obligation for immediate payment of the employers’ contribution for NIS thereby reducing your statutory amount."

Addressing the island’s food security, the prime minister revealed that Government has launched the Domestic Food and Security Programme and obtained 780 acres of land to grow six-week and 12-week crops. The Agricultural Development Fund has approximately $25 million that will go towards providing Barbadians with the ability to grow crops and develop the island’s agricultural capacity. 

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