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Apr 21, 2020

Debit Cards Issued to Recipients of COVID-19 Unemployment Relief Fund

More than thirty thousand applications have been approved for persons to receive assistance from the COVID-19 Unemployment Relief Fund. About seventy thousand persons have so far applied for the assistance, which provides them with seventy-five dollars a week to weather the ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic. The Social Security Board is dispersing the money to the approved applicants; but the programme ran into some problems since a number of the approved persons do not have bank accounts or provided inaccurate information.  Today, at the S.S.B. Office in Belize City, long lines formed from early in the morning.  Hundreds of debit cards were delivered which will ease the recipients into the system. Notably many in line were happy for the assistance. Here is News Five’s Duane Moody with a report.


Duane Moody, Reporting

Before eight o’clock this morning, a large number of persons formed queues in front of the Social Security Board office on Princess Margaret Drive, Belize City. They gathered to pick up a Heritage Bank card, which they will now used to access the one hundred and fifty-dollar assistance via the COVID-19 Unemployment Relief Fund. They form part of the almost thirty-three thousand applications which have been approved for payment, but these persons didn’t have an account and so they were facilitated with these cards that work as debit cards for them to access ATMs to withdraw the money or use to purchase food items at stores.


Odessa Orosco

Odessa Orosco, Belize City Resident

“I get my text pertaining my prepaid card so I come see weh happen cause I get my text. I applied the first week of the state of emergency and when I applied for it online, I get through and then I get my text like three weeks after. The first text say they will review it, I get another text saying the application has been approved and then I get my next text stating I should come to pick up my card.”


One fisherman from Corozal says that he is trying to find a way to support his family of four. Silvano Cob has his common-law wife, two kids and another on the way, but because he cannot go out to fish, the family has lost its income. While the one hundred and fifty dollars, isn’t much, he says it is something that will be stretched to sustain the family.


Silvano Cob

Silvano Cob, Fisherman

“It’s sad cause I stayed here in Belize City; I neva had enough time to go to my village. So I am living here in Belize City for two years now. I work at sea, like a fisherman, so it is kinda hard for us. It is not a big help, but it is pretty much good because right now I have the financials to go out to sea. I am a fisherman like I was telling you and this is not a big money, but it is going to help and I really appreciate that too.”


Steven Buckley also received his texts and despite his ailment, lined up today to collect his card. He has been unable to work since the shooting incident a decade ago; he hustles here and there, but says that he cannot due to COVID-19. Buckley says this money will help to provide for his family.


Steven Buckley

Steven Buckley, Belize City Resident

“I get wah text that dehn got wah thing yah fi give me and come get it and I wah wait fi see weh dehn wah got fi give mi.  I can’t even go pan di street because as the man dehn see me pan the street dehn say Buckley I wah send yo up. I say big man weh yo want I do? I need fi hustle fi make mi kids dehn eat. I go do mi lee run with mi neighbours and do mi lee run and get mi lee money and thing, but it really noh di happen due to this thing weh we deh on lockdown. Since I can’t work again, the people look out fi me and give me a lee help. I appreciate the lee help weh dehn di push out fi me because I need it. I got mi kids dehn weh I got fi take care ah.”


While most of the persons had been approved, there were several who stood in line simply to find out why they had not been approved for the assistance, even though they have been impacted by COVID-19. Duane Moody for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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