NIS Grenada making EC$10 million available for Covid-19 temporary unemployment benefit

by Linda Straker

  • EC$10 million for workers’ lost income due to state measures to reduce Covid-19
  • Benefit package will be a flat monthly $330 payment for 6 months
  • Eligible persons must be unemployed as a direct consequence of Covid-19

Despite not having the legal mandate to provide unemployment benefit to its contributors, the National Insurance Board (NIB) in Grenada has made available EC$10 million for workers who have lost income because of measures taken by the State to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

Grenada declared a state of emergency on 25 March which involved a 24-hour curfew that restricted the movement of citizens. Under the regulations for the state of emergency a wide cross-section of companies had to cease operations because they were not classified as essential services or workers.

Dorset Cromwell, Director of the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) said on Thursday in a statement broadcast on the Government Information Service (GIS) that the benefit package will be a flat monthly payment for 6 months.

“The EC$10 million will be shared equally among all. There will be no distinction between higher and lower-income workers. This will not be based on your income,” he said, reminding workers that board’s decision is based on the reality that workers will be severely affected in the coming months.

“Eligible persons must have been contributing to the NIS and must be unemployed as a direct consequence of Covid-19. Persons who are receiving income support or payroll support from the Government of Grenada will not be eligible. There will be no double-dipping,” he warned.

Cromwell explained that applications for this benefit must be made by the employers and self-employed persons only. “Qualified persons will receive a flat monthly payment of $330 per month over a period of 6 months. Payment will commence during the last week of May 2020,” he said while recommending that all applicants should be submitted online as part of physical distancing measures.

Providing justification for the offering the unemployment benefit, Cromwell said that the situation is not unique to Grenada because similar packages are being discussed and implemented by several regional Social Security Systems (SSS).

“It is important to note that the SSS in the region are at various stages of sustainability and the ability to support such a programme may vary significantly. What sets Grenada apart is that we are not paying for 3 months like most of the other social security systems in the region. This programme will run for 6 months,” he said.

The NIS 2020 offering is a similar unemployment benefit package in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan in 2004. Cromwell explained that contributors were not contributing towards an unemployment benefit but the National Insurance Board and NIS family understanding the hardships faced by contributors, consider this an excellent opportunity and vehicle to serve customers during a difficult period.

Government is yet to announce the number of persons who have lost jobs and income due to the Covid-19 measures, but thousands are affected directly and indirectly. Government already announced a stimulus package aimed at assisting with payroll support of workers in the hospitality sector as well as financial support to workers in the agricultural sector.

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