By Demion McTair. Updated 11:02 p.m., Wednesday April 29, 2020, Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4).
Kingstown, St. Vincent (ONE NEWS SVG) – Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves said that the National Insurance Services (NIS) has received correspondence from 123 employers who employed about 1,200 employees, saying that “they have either closed, they are in the process of closing, or they are going to scale back significantly”.
The minister was speaking at a press conference on Wednesday (April 29) to update the nation on measures his ministry is implementing to respond to the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said the NIS has a EC $2 million dollar budget set aside to fund an unemployment benefit and that the NIS anticipated about 2,000 people applying for the benefit when they did their projections.
Gonsalves said at the press conference that over 900 persons had already applied for the unemployment benefit, but later in the day. Health Minister, Senator Luke Browne, in his daily updates posted that the number had reached 1159.
The finance minster said that a lot of the persons who have applied for the benefit are from the hospitality sector and the education sector, primarily the early childhood sector.
He said that based on the rate of applications, he expects the number of applicants for the benefit to exceed the 2,000 mark.
It is the first time in the country’s history that the NIS is having an unemployment benefit.
Meanwhile, Gonsalves said that the government does “not see the necessity” of salary cuts at this time, based on their projections.
The government recently passed a stimulus measure which the minister estimates is about 4-percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.