February 17, 2021
THE government does not plan to send public servants home to reduce public expenditure given the economic fallout from the pandemic, Public Service and National Insurance Minister Brensil Rolle said.
“The government took the carefully considered position that during this pandemic and in this environment, the only persons who are steadily employed are government employees and they will support their families. So that is the reason why no civil servant got a deduction or was furloughed during this time,” he told reporters yesterday.
“We understand the seriousness of these times and we just took the position that it was in the best interest of us and the service that we keep at least some persons employed and persons that we selected were public officers.”
He also said: “…Approximately just over 1,000 individuals leave the public service every year and we have not increased that number and we’ve not increased the number of persons entering the public service and so individuals are trying to at this time keep a job.
“This is the environment in which we live and we are not encouraging individuals at this time to separate except in those agencies where they’re having difficulties.”
It is not clear how many people are currently unemployed. Labour Director John Pinder has estimated the country’s unemployment rate to be around 38 to 42 percent.
However, the figures were not backed by Labour Minister Dion Foulkes, who told reporters last week that it’s difficult to accurately state the country’s current unemployment rate.
Mr Foulkes also said he believed that the nation’s unemployment levels were “drastically” down given the fact that many people have returned to work since the start of the pandemic.
Yesterday, Mr Rolle said more than $200 million has been paid out by the National Insurance Board to provide income support and unemployment assistance to workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said never in the country’s history has the social support agency expended such an amount of funds to provide economic aid to hurting Bahamians.
“Never before in the history of The Bahamas has any government agency spent as much as NIB on income support and unemployment assistance,” he said. “I looked at numbers yesterday which suggest that when you look at the entire income support and unemployment assistance programme, some $219 million has already been spent and that does not include an additional $10 million that will come in the month of February so it could easily say that roughly in terms of income support alone, Bahamians have benefited to some degree (by) nearly $230 million.”
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News date : 02/17/2021
Category : About Bahamians, Tribune Stories