Belize - Belize News - - Great Belize Productions - Belize Breaking News
Home » Economy, Featured, Social Issues » Summary Report of G.O.B.’s US$75 COVID-19 Unemployment Relief Programme Released
Jun 15, 2020

Summary Report of G.O.B.’s US$75 COVID-19 Unemployment Relief Programme Released

There is some consideration that the Unemployment Relief Programme will re-open as joblessness is on the increase. The initiative closed in April but since then hundreds others feeling the pain of having lost jobs.  The biggest chunk of unemployed persons is in the tourism sector, more than five thousand lost their jobs in the food service industry and thousands others are barbers, taxi drives, entertainers and vendors.  Tonight News Five’s Hipolito Novelo crunches the numbers in the following report.


Hipolito Novelo Reporting

The Belizean economy has been shrinking since COVID-19 became a pandemic.  Most businesses can now operate as per normal, and Belizeans are heading back to work. While that is so, thousands of persons still depend on the government’s seventy-five million dollars Covid-19 Unemployment Relief Programme. Lines continue to form in front of Social Security offices of persons waiting to collect the unemployment relief.  Those who lost their job in the tourism sector were among the first to benefit. The government anticipated twenty thousand tourism jobs would be lost and a further twenty thousand in other areas. A summary report of the programme shows that aside from the tourism sectors, persons in the transportation, construction, retail, agriculture and fisheries industries, to name a few, are being greatly impacted.  Those who lost their jobs due to COVID-19, are receiving one hundred and fifty dollars every two weeks and one hundred dollars every two weeks for those unemployed before the virus.


Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Remember that the Unemployment Relief Program is attempting to take care of those recently unemployment but it also attempting to take care of those who have been longer unemployment. I can see without wanting to discourage anyone that there may come a point at which a longer term unemployed, people who cannot offer any kid of Social Securitas particulars’ became they have not been working for a very, very long time, I can see how we can run into some difficulties sustaining that element of the unemployed.


A little over eighty-one thousand applications were received up to April??? twenty-fourth when G.O.B. decided to close the application process. These included, close to one thousand barbers, more than one thousand two hundred taxi drives, more than five thousand persons in the food service industry and close to four hundred entertainers and support staff. Four thousand seven hundred and fifty vendors were approved.  Of the total approved number, more than thirty-four thousand applications were rejected for several reasons.


Chris Coye

Chris Coye, Financial Advisor, P.U.P.  

“You had some that were excluded for boost because of the parameters that you do not allow double dipping those who were beneficiary of boost got pension from Social Security or government, were not legible. Thos who were under eighteen were not eligible.”


Three hundred and fifty duplicate applications were received. Up to June fifth, a total of forty-four thousand five hundred and fifty two applications were approved. Of this number, forty five percent were recently laid off persons, twenty-four percent were self-employed persons who lost their work and thirty one percent applied as long-term unemployed persons. Two weeks ago, at the end of May, Prime Minister Dean Barrow:


Prime Minister Dean Barrow [File: May 29th, 2020]

“We are having some difficulties with the unemployment relief program as I alluded to earlier, having principally to do with the lack of information or accurate information submitted by some participants or would-be participants in the program.  But we’ve only spent as a consequence something like eleven million dollars, I believe, to date.  Remember that we borrowed seventy-five million dollars to fund the unemployment relief program.  I did take ten from that seventy-five to start the food rollout, but that is going to be reimbursed, so we still must think in terms of a seventy-five million dollar pool for unemployment relief.  On that basis, absolutely with the additional layoffs that we will see now the unemployment relief program will have to continue and perhaps be expanded.”



But before that is done, several factors are under consideration, such as the priority categories of unemployed persons, specific programmes for support of small business, and greater institutional formality.

At the end of May fifteen point eight million dollars were distributed with one hundred and thirty three thousand in bank charges. Projected payments for three months to those who have been approved so far total thirty four point one million dollars. According to the summary reports, if all remaining applications were to be approved, the total costs would be a sixty-six million dollars spent for a three -month period.

In the meantime, Opposition Leader John Briceño supports the forensic audit of the millions which have been disbursed.


John Briceño

John Briceño, Leader of the Opposition

“About four weeks ago I presented a paper to the National Oversight Committee, recommending that there be constant audits so I think it is time now if they have not started yet for the Auditor General and her team to start go in and audit the food assistance and they unemployment relief that we have been giving.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Hipolito Novelo.

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.

Advertise Here

Comments are closed