Govt. to extend unemployment benefit and food assistance programmes

Economic team to focus on boosting jobs, creating more economic opportunities

The Government will again extend the unemployment benefit assistance through January 2021 and the food assistance program for the first quarter of 2021, announced Prime Minister the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis.

In his National Address on Sunday 6 December, the Prime Minister also announced that he will continue to serve as Minister of Finance for the remainder of this term, and that Hon. Desmond Bannister, Minister of Works will be the new Deputy Prime Minister. Senator the Hon. Kwasi Thompson will serve as Minister of State for Finance.

The extended unemployment benefit programme, which is funded by the Government but administered by the National Insurance Board, has benefitted 36,959 Bahamians whose employment benefits ended after the customary 13 weeks, or who otherwise would not qualify for unemployment.

“The payouts for this programme at the end of November totaled just over $70 million,” said the Prime Minister.

“The extension of the programme through the end of January will mean that tens of thousands of Bahamians will continue to get some measure of assistance until they are called back to work.”

Similarly, said Prime Minister Minnis, the Government will extend its food distribution programme for the first quarter of 2021 with an allocation of another $10 million to provide food assistance to the most vulnerable in our society. 

This programme has to date provided assistance to over 100,000 Bahamians, noted the Prime Minister.  

During his National Address on Sunday 6 December, the Prime Minister said getting more money flowing into the economy, boosting jobs and creating more economic opportunities for Bahamians are among the major economic goals to help guide the country’s economic recovery.

To help advance these economic goals the Prime Minister said he will continue to serve as the Minister of Finance and will be guided by an economic team.

The Hon. Desmond Bannister, the Minister of Works, will become Deputy Prime Minister.

“Because of his portfolio, which includes capital works and infrastructure, and because of his experience and good counsel, he will be a part of the economic team,” said Prime Minister Minnis.

A part of this team will be Senator, the Hon. Kwasi Thompson, Minister of State for Grand Bahama, who will be the Minister of State for Finance. Minister Thompson will focus on the economic needs and recovery of Grand Bahama, Family Island development and the ongoing digital transformation of The Bahamas and the Government.

The Prime Minister has also appointed Mr. Nathaniel Beneby, Jr. as Special Advisor in the Office of the Prime Minister, who will help to drive the recommendations made by the Economic Recovery Committee and to focus on the Ease of Doing Business.

Also on this team will be the Financial Secretary Marlon Johnson and Mr. Kenneth Kerr, both of whom co-chaired the Economic Recovery Committee, and economic advisor in the Ministry of Health, Mrs. Wendy Craigg. 

Mrs. Craigg is an economist by training and is a former and well-respected Governor of the Central Bank.

“We will augment this team as necessary with individuals and expertise from across the economy, including various members from the Economic Recovery Committee,” said Prime Minister Minnis.