Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Ryan Straughn. (FP)

Cabinet has approved a plan to recapitalise the Unemployment Fund.       

This disclosure came today from Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Ryan Straughn, who said the plan was accepted on Thursday and involves discussions with the National Insurance Board.

He explained that the Unemployment Fund had to borrow money from the National Insurance Fund to pay out a large number of claims that were made because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking after the launch of the Clean and Green Programme at Kingsland Drive, Kingsland, Christ Church, Mr. Straughn stated: “The amount required to recapitalise the Fund is $143 million, which is a lot of money. But you would appreciate that the Fund did pay out $155 million last year.  In a normal year, the Unemployment Fund would take in roughly $50 million and pay out about $37 million or so on average.

“But obviously with the extraordinary claims last year, the Fund was completely exhausted, and obviously with lower levels of employment, it meant contributions going into the Fund were lower during 2020…. Over the next few fiscal years, we will see that Fund being replenished, but as it stands at the moment, we will give to the National Insurance enough money to be able to ensure that persons can continue to receive benefits.”

Mr. Straughn said Government was hopeful that more Barbadians would return to work as quickly as possible. He noted that about 11,000 unemployment claims were made because of the lockdown earlier this year, however, they were significantly less than last year’s numbers.

He noted that the World Bank approved BDS $200 million on Thursday as part of the island’s budget support in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which came on the heels of the IMF recognising that the country had met its targets under the revised BERT programme.

He added that public health was being managed very well, and urged Barbadians to continue following the protocols.

“Things look positive for the country as we further accelerate Government’s capital works programme until such time as we can get the tourists to come back.  With Barbados now on the green list for UK travel, I think we are in a good place right now…, knock on wood; everything appears to be coming together for us to be able to accelerate the recovery,” Mr. Straughn stated.

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