Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance announced that last week, the Department of Social Services, the National Insurance Board (NIB) and the Small Business Development Centre (SBDC), using the additional resources allocated by this government administration, rolled out social and economic support programmes. “This means, Bahamians are gaining access to much-needed food assistance and financial support to lessen the economic burden on their households,” DPM Turnquest said as he announced an update on the government’s stimulus measures in response to COVID-19 in the House of Assembly, Monday, March 30, 2020. “I am also pleased to advise that the Government is expanding its recently announced social assistance programme, targeting a broader category of self-employed persons, and introducing another programme geared at protecting current employment levels.”
He said the Government has set aside $4 million for disbursement through the Department of Social Services, for food assistance and social support for displaced workers directly impacted by COVID-19. The DPM explained that the Department started administering this programme earlier in the week, and applications are flowing. Since March 22, they have received and are processing some 1,430 applications. “Applicants will be advised of the date to collect the food coupons from the Department of Social Services, Sunshine Plaza, Baillou Hill Road with effect from Wednesday, 1 April 2020 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
He said, “The food assistance vouchers under this initiative are valued at $100. They are to be disbursed every second week, primarily to persons within the hospitality industry who are facing reduced work weeks.” DPM Turnquest stated that this allocation will allow for up to eight weeks of benefit payments but may be adjusted according to need. As the tourism sector was clearly impacted from early March, we have made this benefit available to individuals who were on reduced weeks from March 1. Additional information on the process to apply and receive this benefit will be provided by the Department of Social Services.