Ingraham Delivers Unemployment Benefit For Unemployed Bahamians

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It is no question Hubert Ingraham is a political master when it comes to running a campaign. His skills are enough for us to say he is simply the best there is, when it comes to executing a campaign message. And it is that skill we know the PLP is not ready to test. The PLP has no public relations team. In fact its team members to date are FRACTURED TO THE CORE, AND WILL NOT BE REPAIRED ANYTIME SOON.

However we note here in celebration of the second year anniversary of the FNM government, that another jewel is placed in their Bahamian crown. The FNM government will deliver to the Bahamian people this May a NATIONAL UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFIT!

The Unemployment Benefit through the National Insurance Board is coming at a time when thousands of Bahamians have not worked for several months or years, and will relieve financial hardship among individuals as well as boost consumer demand for goods in services across The Bahamas, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said during debate on Resolutions to implement regulations for the new Benefit scheme.

Prime Minister Ingraham also outlined the regulations, providing answers to many of the pertinent questions associated with the new benefit.

We present Prime Minister Ingraham’s comments to members of the media on Sunday 5th, May, 2009.

THE PRIME MINISTER: It is a great pleasure for me to move this and two other Resolutions to facilitate the introduction of unemployment payments as a benefit under the National Insurance Scheme.

It has been many years since I first promoted and publicly expressed my desire to do so. Having determined to retire from political leadership in 2002 I thought that it was one of those things left to be put in place by a successor in office.

Thanks to the good people of The Bahamas, it is for me and my Party to do it. Today we fulfill a promise made in every election Manifesto upon which I was able to victoriously lead the FNM to Government.

Upon attaining independence most, if not all countries seek membership in the International Labour Organisation – ILO.

One of the conditions for membership in the ILO is adherence to the principles of its social security Conventions which require members to provide certain minimum social benefits. Five basic benefits are required of which a minimum of three are mandatory:

* Unemployment,
* Old-age pensions,
* Employment injury,
* Invalidity, and
* Survivors benefits

The Bahamas chose four (4): old age pensions, employment injury, invalidity and survivors benefit.

Now we elect to introduce unemployment.

This will complete the basic benefit package recommended by the ILO.

National Insurance is a mandatory scheme; it is universal requiring by law, contributions from all employed persons and by all employers.

At its commencement it was determined that a contribution rate of 8.8% of wage up to a ceiling of $110 per week would be imposed. The scheme provides benefit payments to contributors irrespective of means/income.

Assistance payments are also provided to others who satisfy a “means” test.

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FNMs gathered all along Mackey Street to hear Prime Minister Elect Hubert Alexander Ingraham on May 2nd, 2007. Bahamas Press will bring you photos and audio of the May 2nd, 2007 general election.
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Only employers are required to pay contributions for industrial injury benefit. At the scheme’s commencement that contribution was set at 2% of insurable wage. The remaining 6.8% of the contribution rate is shared equally by employers and employees. Hence, the 60%-40% ratio for contributions that exists today.

Simply stated for each $100 of wage, the employer pays $5.40 and the employee pays $3.40.

The regulation to enable industrial injury benefit to be paid did not come into effect for 6 years after the commencement of contribution payment by employers (November 1980).

By 1980 it became clear, following upon an actuarial review, that a 2% contribution allocated for industrial injury was excessive.

At that time, the amount standing to the credit of this branch of the National Insurance scheme was $40 million.

After much discussion, it was agreed that the accumulated $40 million in the Branch would be transferred to a Medical Fund, and that this Fund would be used to improve health infrastructure in the country. Hence, today, we have a network of some 18 clinics around the country which have been turned over to the Ministry of Health.

We propose to further expand this Branch to include a prescription drug benefit.

Also it was recognized that the allocation of 20% of contribution for short term benefit payments (e.g. maternity, sickness and funeral benefits) was excessive. On the other hand, the allocation of 57% to the Pensions branch was inadequate.

As a consequence, in 1985 the allocation of contribution between the four branches of the scheme was adjusted:

* Short-term benefits – 16.5&
* Pensions – 73.9%
* Industrial benefits – 8.5%

The newly established Medical Branch was allocated 1.1% of contributions.

This distribution has remained in place until today.

Upon the approval and coming into effect of the National Insurance (Financial and Accounting Regulations) (Amendment) Regulations presently before Parliament the allocation between the Branches of the Fund will be as follows:

* Short-term benefits – 25%
* Pensions – 67%
* Industrial benefits – 7.5%
* And Medical – .5%

The funds available under the Medical Branch have proved more than sufficient to fund the expansion of the community health care facilities network. To fund the introduction of an unemployment benefit, $20 million will be taken out of this Fund. All of the Funds in the Industrial Injury and Medical Branch were contributed by employers.

As of December 31st, 2008, the balances in these two Funds were as follows:

* Industrial Benefit Branch reserves: $ 105 million
* Medical Benefit Branch reserves: $ 70 million.

When the $20 million is transferred from the Medical Branch to the Fund, the initial cost of an unemployment Benefit, the net cash remaining in that Branch inclusive of Investment income will be $ 50 million.

The Medical Benefit Branch receives about $1.7 million in contribution income and over $2.5 million in investment income each year.

Medical Payments made by NIB resulting from job related injuries over the past four (4) years are as follows:

* 2005 – $9.7million
* 2006 – $11.4
* 2007 – $11.6
* 2008 – $14.8

The Medical Care component of these payments is:

* 2005 – $5.5 million
* 2006 – $6.9
* 2007 – $6.9
* 2008 – $9.5

Medical Care covers:

* cost of travel from Family Islands to New Providence – transport, accommodation & subsistence – sometimes these expenses are higher than the cost of treatment
* cost of transportation from The Bahamas to Florida – transport, accommodation & subsistence. Similarly associated costs are often times greater than the cost of treatment
* Injured patients and their physicians most often select Doctor’s Hospital
* Where travel is involved, sometimes NI covers cost of an escort
* NI often sends persons away if the relevant treatment is not available locally. NI may facilitate a 2nd opinion locally, but sometimes this may take place abroad and covered at local equivalent rates.
* Where medically necessary NI covers home health care
* National Insurance purchases medical equipment, beds, toilet seats etc
* If necessary, renovate living space to accommodate special equipment – beds, wheel chairs etc
* Install generators to ensure certain equipment are always on
* Covers cost of prosthetic devices

Recent Cases with Significant Costs Burn victim:

* Airlifted to Florida
* Before aeroplane touched down, NI had to pay $500,000
* Expenses totalled over $700,000
* Patient died 9 days after sustaining injury
* Several quadriplegics in recent years – vehicular accidents
* One in 2008 for which costs already exceed $400,000 – twice the amount spent on two other older cases of quadriplegics
* Another 2008 case involved an older gentleman and higher costs associated with his advanced age

More frequent cases with significant but lower costs:

* Gun shot wounds (usually cost between $60,000 and $90,000; Hospitalised for a few days)
* Back & other major orthopaedic surgeries can cost in excess of $50,000.

Soon Parliament will be asked to approve a number of changes to the National Insurance Scheme – 35 years after its commencement.

Members will soon have for consideration the Actuarial Review of the National Insurance Fund undertaken as of December, 2006 not yet publicly available, along with the report of the Social Security Reform Commission of 2005 – also not yet publicly available.

These documents will be placed on the NIB and the Government websites so that all may be read about the progress, challenges and recommendations made to enhance our social security programme.

Before I proceed further I wish to commend the Board of NIB and especially its chairman, Patrick Ward, its Actuary, Derek Osborne, and its Director, Algernon Cargill, for the commendable work they are doing at the Board. And, I thanks employers for agreeing to the introduction of the Unemployment Scheme.
What is an unemployment benefit?

A benefit for primarily employed persons who made National Insurance contributions while they were employed. It is not a programme for workers who made no contributions to the national Insurance Programme. It is not an assistance programme. It is a benefit programme.

The Unemployment Benefit provides temporary financial assistance to eligible workers who become unemployed, are unable to find suitable employment and who are capable, available and willing to work. And while unemployment schemes are designed primarily to benefit individuals who lose their jobs and lose regular income, they also help boost the overall economy in times of recession.

Unemployment payments by NIB to persons who most probably lack the financial ability to do so will most likely result in the prompt purchase of consumer goods or in discharging other essential obligations such as rents, electricity or mortgage payments. Left in the hands of NIB such sums will most probably sit in a bank account or be used for the purchase of Government Bonds.

Consumer demand helps to sustain employment, hence the Unemployment Benefit Programme will assist in sustaining jobs as payments made to the unemployed will increase purchasing and help to minimize fluctuations in National Income and employment.

The unemployment benefit is being implemented in two phases, given the economic realities and the needs of unemployed workers.

During the first phase benefits will be financed from the $20 million transferred out of the Medical Benefit Branch. So initially, there will be no new contribution by either employers or workers and the contribution qualifying conditions are quite generous for phase one, to allow persons who may have been unemployed for up to 4 years to qualify.
First let me discuss the highlight the interim phase:

If I am unemployed, how do I know whether I am entitled to receive Unemployment Insurance benefits under the Scheme commencing April, 2009?

Firstly, you must be a person who was previously employed and registered with NIB by your employer. Your last date of employment must be on or after July 1st, 2004. And, you must not yet have attained the age of 65.

You then have to meet two National Insurance contribution conditions:

The first one requires that you have paid contributions for at least 40 weeks or 9 months. These contributions could have been made just before unemployment began or many years before.

Then, you must also have made a certain number of contributions in the period leading up to your unemployment. There are three conditions of which you only have to meet one:

Made at least 13 weeks (3 months 1 week) contributions in the six months prior to becoming unemployed, or

Made 26 weekly payments in last 52 weeks, or

Made 26 payments in the last contribution year (July to June) before you became unemployed

I will give 2 examples:

The first example is for someone who becomes unemployed on the first day of the scheme – April 20, 2009.

The first condition requires at least 40 weekly contributions. Then, he or she must have made:

13 contributions from October 2008 to April 2009, or

26 payments from April 2008 to April 2009, or

26 payments from July 2007 to June 2008

In the case of an unemployed person who has not worked since September 2004 (which would cover persons like the Royal Oasis in Grand Bahama), the following conditions would apply:

must have paid 9 months contributions,

AND

paid 13 contributions between March and September, 2004, or

26 payments between September 2003 and September 2004, or

26 payments between July 2003 and June 2004 all before being laid off.

The second example would include persons working at the Royal Oasis in Freeport who were laid off after the hurricane in 2004, and persons in Grand Cay, Abaco who were laid off after the hurricane and the eventual closure of the Walkers Cay Hotel and Marina.

The fundamental requirement is that a claimant must still be unemployed at the time a claim for unemployment is made. This benefit is not designed to compensate for previous periods of unemployment. In short, if you are working now it would not be possible to claim for a past period when you were unemployed.
How much am I eligible to draw?

The unemployment benefit payment will be one half, or 50%, of your average insurable wage.

So the wages on which your contributions were made prior to your becoming unemployed will determine the sum you receive.

With the current ceiling on insurable wages of $400 per week, the maximum amount that anyone can receive is therefore $200 per week – 50% of $400.

If you are paying on a wage of $300 per week you would receive $150 per week. If you contribute on a wage of $200 per week, you would be eligible to receive $100.

By the way, although the benefit is stated as a weekly amount, payments will be made every 2 weeks.
When do I start collecting unemployment cheques?

The unemployment benefit scheme will become effective on 20th April.

Since cheques will be paid every 2 weeks, the first set of cheques will be issued during the week of 4th May. These cheques will be for the period April 20 to May 2nd. Cheques will represent payment for the previous 2 weeks.

Entitled persons will be advised by National Insurance where and when to collect unemployment benefit cheques.
How do I apply?

NIB will soon begin making announcements regarding the places and times at which entitled persons may register. Special Centres will be designated immediately before Easter to provide for an easy transition to this new benefit.

National Insurance and the Labour Department will together also designate special centres throughout The Bahamas, including the National Insurance Offices, to register for Unemployment Benefits on and after April 20.

To ensure that every eligible unemployed person receives their benefit after April 20, each National Insurance Local Office in New Providence, Grand Bahama and in the Family Islands (and in some cases Government Administrative and or Local Government offices) will be able to receive claims during the Interim Phase of the this Unemployment Benefit programme, and certainly when we introduce the Permanent Phase.

So, National Insurance and the Department of Labour, working together at designated schools, will begin to accept Unemployment Claims on Saturday, April 11th, and also, for the following week commencing Tuesday, immediately after Easter Monday, at these schools.

After this one week period, on Monday, April 20, which is officially Unemployment Registration Day, National Insurance Offices will accept applications; the Department of Labour representatives will also be at the Jumbey Village and the Freeport National Insurances Offices to ensure that the unemployed have a one-stop process in filing their unemployment claims.. All workers who have made NIB contributions and who are willing, able and capable of employment but who have not been able to find employment are urged to register.
What information do I need when I apply?

Claiming the new unemployment benefit will require you to register with the Department of Labour’s Employment Exchange where you will be issued an Unemployment Card. Representatives at the Department will be in the same location as NIB at the Special Registration Centres during Registration times in New Providence and Grand Bahama. On other islands alternative arrangement, as appropriate, will be made,

A claimant must then complete the National Insurance claim form and produce the Unemployment Card when first claiming. At both the Labour exchange and NIB claimants will need to present their NIB Card and a picture ID – drivers’ license or passport.

The Claim Form will ask for the following information:

* Personal information – name, address, and telephone number, so they can be contacted if there are any issues with a claim.
* The last date of employment.
* The reason for dismissal. If available, it would help if a copy of the dismissal letter is provided.
*

Name and addresses of the places or individuals for whom a claimant worked during the last 18-24 months.
*

If a claimant is receiving any other benefit payment from NIB, e.g. maternity benefit, sickness benefit or invalidity. Only receipt of Survivors Benefit or Disablement benefit may be paid at the same time as unemployment benefits. In short, a person can’t collect sick benefits or maternity benefits and unemployment at the same time. One dip – not two or more – except for survivors or disablement

What do I have to do to maintain my eligibility?

This new benefit is for persons who are unemployed. This means that they are currently not working and they want to work but cannot find suitable work. Therefore, to continue receiving cheques every 2 weeks one must:

*

continue to look for a job while receiving unemployment benefit. They will be required to report to the Department of Labour at least once every 4 weeks to check on the availability of jobs. This will confirm that the person is still seeking employment.
*

A claimant must not refuse suitable employment offered or refuse to apply for a suitable vacancy brought to his/her attention.
*

If the Director of Labour advises a claimant of a job availability he/her must not refuse to be interviewed for that job.
*

A claimant must not refuse to undertake a training programme offered by the Department of Labour which could qualify him/her for a job

Each time a claimant goes to collect a benefit cheque he/she will be asked to confirm that during the past 2 weeks he/she was unemployed, looked for work, and did not refuse suitable employment etc. Claimants will be required to confirm this by signing their name. It is important that claimants be honest as NIB will be making checks to ensure that the statements made are true. There are severe consequences for making fraudulent claims.
I am currently collecting severance pay. Can I collect Unemployment Insurance at the same time?

No, you cannot receive both severance pay and unemployment benefits at the same time. Unemployment Benefits are only paid after the severance pay period ends.

So NIB will determine from the claim form and from information provided by your last employer as to when any pay in lieu of notice and any severance pay expires. The unemployment benefit will then be awarded if you are still unemployed 2 weeks after severance pay has expired.
Will I be able to collect Unemployment benefits if I quit my job?

Yes, you may but not right away. If you quit your job, the benefit may be denied for up to 6 of the 13 weeks.
Will I be able to collect Unemployment benefits if I am fired?

Yes, unless you are fired for theft, dishonesty or fraudulent offenses. In those cases you may be denied eligibility for one half of the benefit period.
How do I appeal my claim if I am disqualified from receiving Unemployment benefits?

Claimants may appeal any NI benefit that is disallowed or for which they feel the amount paid is not correct. Cases are heard before the NIB Appeal Tribunal.
What happens when my Unemployment benefits run out?

The total period of benefit payment is 13 weeks (3 months and one week). This is the usual period of payment for this benefit internationally.

It should be noted that when the 13 week period is exhausted the law makes provision for the Minister to extend the benefit for up to an additional 13 weeks. This could result in a maximum of 26 weeks – 6 months. Extensions would have to be for the entire programme, not a single individual. So if circumstances in the economy dictates an extension, an extension may be granted.

After 6 months Social Services would then be the only assistance available.
What if I need more training to get a new job?

Where training is available from the Department of Labour, or through some other Government funded source, you would be expected/required to avail yourself of the training. You can request information on training available from the Department of labour.
Can I get help in conducting my search for a job?

Yes. This is actually one of the reasons we want you to register with the Department of Labour. The Exchange provides a matching service where employers indicate any vacancies they are trying to fill. So not only is the Exchange going to help verify continued unemployment, they are primarily there to help you find a new job.

Mr. Speaker, I will now touch briefly on the second or permanent phase of the programme. While no date has yet been established for the start of this phase, the amendments before us today provide for the Minister to set that date. And as I indicated last week when we debated the amendment to the National Insurance Act, ample notice will be provided to employers and workers.

There are two key differences between the provisions of the interim and permanent phases. The first is that contributions of 1/2% of insurable wages will be payable by both employers and workers and secondly, the NIB contribution requirements will be different. Other than that, the insured person must be unemployed, able to and willing to work, have not refused suitable employment and attended an interview or training if directed to do so by the Director of Labour in order to qualify.

The increases to NIB contributions will be quite small:- for every $100 of insurable wage, 50 cents will be payable by the employee and 50 cents by the employer. So for workers who earn $400 or more per week and pay the maximum contributions, the additional contribution to NIB will be $2 by the employer and $2 by the employee each week.

Phase II of the Programme will require contributions from wages by both Employer and Employees. The contribution rate will be 1% of insurable wage.

Two important points regarding contributions:

1.

All employed persons and their employers, including civil servants and The Bahamas Government, will contribute.
2.

The 1% contribution is expected to cover fully the cost of unemployment benefits payable for persons who qualify under the second phase.

There are differences as to the number of National Insurance contributions that will be required when the contributory phase starts. The requirements will be more stringent.

To qualify a claimant must have (i) contributed for at least 52 weeks (1 year), and (ii) paid or being credited with thirteen (13) contributions in the twenty-six (26) weeks immediately before unemployment commenced, and (iii) paid seven contributions in the thirteen (13) weeks immediately before unemployment commenced.

That means that only persons who have been employed for at least half of the previous 9 months and a half of the previous 3 months will qualify to receive the benefit.

There are also provisions which will prevent people from qualifying frequently and abusing the scheme. So once a claimant exhausts his 13 weeks of benefits (unless the payment period is extended), he will have to wait another 52 weeks. And he will have to have paid contributions for at least 20 weeks in the previous 9 months; half of which must be in the previous 3 months in order to qualify.

In summary, this new Unemployment Benefit will lead to the National Insurance Board providing income replacement coverage for all of the contingencies that are likely to affect a worker’s wages – sickness, maternity, invalidity, death, old-age, and now unemployment.

This benefit is being introduced at a time when thousands of Bahamians have not worked for several months, some for years. And although the payment period is only temporary, lasting up to a maximum of 26 weeks, it will relieve financial hardship among individuals as well as boost consumer demand for goods in services across The Bahamas.

31 COMMENTS

  1. Something in the back of my mind tell me Joe Blow may be the one and only AF. I have been rereading some of AF’s old writings and see some similarity between what he was saying when the PLP was in power and what Joe says on a regular basis here. Hmmmmm. I may be wrong, but you never know. Tristan, I agree with you that Perry has a bittersweet vibe about what is happening now. As much as I support him and the PLP, if we were caught up in this storm, and I know we would fare better than the FNM because we have smarter people in finance with James Smith and Halkitis, I still think we would be catching eternal hell from the Tribune, from the Punch, from BP and from the FNM 24/7 365. There would be no let up to the pressure. But since they in power, you see how screw up Bahamians can be. We talking about “give them time” and blaming it on the world. Man, Hubert was firing people from day one and if you go back to BP adn teh PLP site from two years ago, you will see that both of them were saying this. We didn’t have no recession then, so they were only firing people for who they vote for. BP, I hope you get that letter the PLP had on their site where Ingraham had one of his clowns name the PLPs to fire in Freeport. That is what we are dealing with and they want to talk about trust. Trust that.

  2. I heard the news yesterday on the passing of DRY BREAD may his soul Joseph JOE PRATT and all the dearly departed rest in peace.

  3. Joe blow is a good guy when he ready. If only some PLPs can be like him but not to that extend…lol. It is sad that The Bahamas is going through this but we must learn something from this so that in the future, it will never happen again. PLP or FNM it would have bin bad but personally I dont think under the PLP, it would have bin as bad as it is. Mr. Christie is very happy not to be in Power at a time like this. TRUST ME!!! However, the younger leaders who will take this country in 2012 need to be working on a Plan in Consultation with the Triune God to move this country out of the ditch it is in.
    I would like to wish all of you a Happy Easter and also too in Grand Bahama we mourn the passing of a Bahamaian Artist Cyral “Dry Bread” Ferguson who died on Thursday. May his soul rest in peace.

  4. R.J. I would be delighted to raise all kinds of issues at the next Party meeting of either or both the PLP and FNM. Alas, I have never been invited and have only this forum in which to share my views. We learn from History and from our Failures as well as our Successes. You make a good point when you speak about too many people getting into the same business, which of course ensures that none will make the kinds of money that will allow for them to diversify and create other businesses. That is one of the signs of a people who have little creativity and vision. We tend not to think out of the box and are ready to piggy back on another’s seemingly successful venture and soon discover too many in the same business dilutes the “pot” for all. Too many wholesale liquor stores, too many fast food outlets, too many wash houses and even too many Churches! I am in no postion to apologize for those, who have failed miserably, from both Partys. I can only hope each will recognize their failures and learn from them. You should heed your own words about the OSTRICH and take a good look at where we are today and how we got there and stop putting all the blame on the party that is now in power. There have been a lot of mistakes and miscalculations and cover-ups by both sides. Perhaps that is the Nature of the political animal. As to restructuring, you are insane (your word) if you don’t believe all government departments need to be restructured. These bureaucrats are so entrenched that they are rude, obnoxious and downright thieves who have continued to get away with their condescending behaviour for years. If this Government does nothing else but to give a clear message to civil servants that, we the public, will not put up with their folly any longer I, for one, will deem them to have been successful. As to behaviour in Parliament, I have berated both sides for their inappropriate behaviour. I have suggested that the Speaker take a firmer position and stop persons who are in a debate about a Bill, from speaking about any other subject then the bill itself. I note that it is the PLP side that is the more egregious in this particular matter. There is nothing wrong with an Opposition member pointing out the flaws in the Governments’ thinking, as long as they do so constructively and without malice. That is why we have an Opposition. There is nothing wrong with you and I disagreeing as long as we do so with respect for each other’s point of view. We both can learn from one another.

  5. I love your spin on the issue Joe Blow bcos am dealing with the future and not the past.It is amazing that you are trying to disregard the current events taking place and saying lets move on.Any Govt that deliberately puts its citizens out of work by so called restructuring is insane.What should have happened was for Hubert to stay retired and then the whole country could have restructured itself.Stop being apologetic for these clowns who have failed miserably and are sending the ship into reefs.You better go on the streets and notice that dozens of Bahamians are all selling the same product,phone cards.This is unsustainable as too much competition dilutes their market.A caring Govt could by now have invited the views of all stakeholders and implemented a plan for stimulus .Loud talking and giggling in Parliament will not suffice but with this crew all are hopelessly lost.Therefore a General Election is the most viable alternative as the COOKIE MONSTER needs to put a better slate of candidates together.How could anyone make the entire FNM HOA slate Cabinet Ministers?Then go and complain about there being more Chiefs than Indians in our Police Force?Joe Blow raise this point at the next party meeting and stop being an OSTRICH.

  6. I will like to take this time out to wish all a Happy Easter …….and I hope all enjoy their spring break this Easter season…

  7. RJ: You presuppose that the Party of your choice will be ushered in as the next government. Also, despite all evidence to the contrary, U.S. tourists will flock back to the Bahamas and investors will magically have all knds of investment money that they will be willing to bring to the country. You must be very young. Had you lived in the recession era of the 1930s, you would understand that it was years before people lost their fear (and those, most affected, never did) and it actually took World War II to bring countries out of the slump of the economy even when the worst was seemingly over. The Employment Benefit Plan will not cause a turn around in the economy. It will help the eligible unemployed to minimally keep their heads above the water. Implementing the plan now will give workers some security should they find themselves without work in the future. It is a start. What we need to implement immediately are mandatory programs where out of work persons, who are collecting benefits, must be willing to be retrained for positions that will be needed in the future. As long as we keep dwelling in the past actions or non-actions of those we put in power, we will never forge ahead as we should no matter who is in charge. Put your thinking-cap on man and deal with todays’ issues!

  8. Right now thw Govt could do the country a favor call an Election and we could move on from there.By calling an Election now it would stimulate the Bahamian economy as much of the cash hidden away would be used.Employment would skyrocket and everyone could share in the pie.By announcing these policies allo Govt id doing is delaying the inevitable.In my view the problem is further exacerbated by the horrible proposal at Bahamas Customs to bypass senior men and promote their subordinates.All members of Cabinet must take responsibility so I do not want anyone trying to seperate them as birds of a feather flock together.The Defence Force is next and therefore I say call an Election and let the people decide if they want to continue down hells way with the Cookie Monster and crew.Anyone who cannot see that the present situation will only get worse under the FNM Govt is blind or at the very least insane.Where is our Moses?Churches please for God and our sake speak now or forever hold your peace.God is neither mocked nor scorned and a prime example is the Reverend gentleman who stored all his goods with Clico for old age and look at what happened?Wrong is still wrong and those with power now to help and make a difference must speak now or forever hold their peace. That little Weasel 10/45 is too defensive and must answer any view opposed to his.If something is rejected it is not accepted.But weasel is trying to wiggle his way out of problems.He did say that the Lord did not want him in politics but Hubert did.See the confusion?so dont wonder about how he puts a spin on everything.My God ,My God why has thou forsaken me?

  9. Kim: Since the dawn of creation there has been both good and evil in the hearts of men and women. We all contain the seeds of kindness and the seeds of violence. Both heredity and environment shape who each of us is today. Paedophilia is a dastardly crime and when it is commited by a person who has children in his/her charge, it is the worst of evils. However, we live in a democracy and adhere to a justice system that dictates that a person is innocent until proven guilty. It is highly likely that there were many persons who tried to keep this whole issue quiet. That , unfortunately, is the first defensive action most private and public persons choose, to deal with this kind of problem. It is difficult for you and I to assess just who is to blame for Mr. Birbal’s departure from this country. Interpol will find him. When they do he will stand trial. Collectively, the Government, the schools’ administrators and those who were aware of the problem early on must share the blame for this whole fiasco. My point always has been that there is a wider problem that we all must deal with. Crime of every sort runs rampant in this country and though you and I keep the 10 Commandments close to our hearts and minds, we too must share the guilt of not standing up and speaking out loud and clear against every form of injustice. You are right to speak out clearly about your opinions in this matter and I commend you for it. You have no blame in what the man did or in his escape. Nor do I. As to the FNM; I have no loyalty to that Party or any other. My loyalties lay with my country. I am quite willing to censure them as a party and indivdually when they take a wrong course of action. I will, however, not participate in vile name -calling of any individual,no matter their guilt.It is counter-productive to all I believe in. I thank you for your respect and be assured you have mine in return. I always look forward to your contributions.

  10. Joe Blow is indeed a real gem and he is a very well informed educated man. I have so much respect for Joe Blow, the only hang up I have with Joe is I believe in his eyes the FNM can not do any wrong and he would fight to the end to protect them even when they are wrong. Joe and I know they could have done more to bring about justice for those children at EMRH. Before Joe blame them wutless MPs from his party he would rather he and I take the blame for Birbal escape. I just want hear Joe admit once, when the FNM did something wrong….lol….

  11. rb75 :
    WOW; I truly believe that come next election there will be a change in many people’s mind this will be a different electorate from the last time I feel this in my bones.
    However on Joe Blows idle chatter, I have come to respect Joe’s views on a whole host of subjects since I have been blogging here I don’t think that Joe’s blogs here are idle Ibelieve that they are insightful and very to the point with a clear vision for the future ….now if Joe has an ulterior motive then eventually it will show its ugly head ….this is a very fair blog site and I do welcome and appreciate every one’s opinion even if we disagree …as I always state here Iam a very liberal person and I believe that Joe is very conservative so it makes for great conversation and as for you WOW i must give kudos to you as well for being a great blogger and having much insight yourself on a whole host of issues.
    [Reply]

    Thank you rb7, you are far to kind. As far as Joe Blow goes, I believe that he is very much well informed, that is what I meant when I said his comments are not idle chatter.

  12. Connie :
    This plan should if not already become apart of the NIB scheme that we already pay into and if an increase is needed we really have to think about that. We have to face facts no one wants to pay higher taxes but we all wants the benefits. I agree with the point the the NIB funds alloted to this scheme will run out quickly, that is the poor planning and knee jerk governance that I would talking about.
    On another note while the govt is on this subject they really need to do something about the high cost of health insurance.
    [Reply]

    Connie, don’t hold your breath. Some of the FNM’s biggest supporters and financial backers are in the insurance industry.

  13. @ronica7
    I love that you said that. Back then, Hubert made a big stink about how the US economy would not affect us and that what we needed was proper governance. Boy, talk about words coming back to haunt you. I just wish the Bahamian people were more aware of things like this. There are so many Bahamians that are misinformed because they take rely too heavily on the propaganda.

  14. This plan should if not already become apart of the NIB scheme that we already pay into and if an increase is needed we really have to think about that. We have to face facts no one wants to pay higher taxes but we all wants the benefits. I agree with the point the the NIB funds alloted to this scheme will run out quickly, that is the poor planning and knee jerk governance that I would talking about.

    On another note while the govt is on this subject they really need to do something about the high cost of health insurance.

  15. Connie :
    The name of the benefit does not matter and if it has a negative spin on it that does not matter, all that matters is if it works. Mr. Ingraham is no saviour he did what he had to do because the amount of people that are jobless is overwhelming. Some of the unemployment was a direct result of decision made by Mr. Ingraham as well but we have to face facts. This is a necessary scheme and should not be politicized. Mr. Ingraham speaks of the scheme as if it is his own money that he grudgingly has to give to people. Those people have contributed to NIB and therefore deserve some help from the funds that they have contributed to because of course when the do start working again we all we be taxed to put the money back. The FNM is operating as if they have no idea what they are doing and are flying by the seats of their pants. The next election is not going to be a regular mudslinging election because there will be a lot of young people looking for change.
    [Reply]

    That’s just it Connie, this scheme will not work. The system will be quickly overwhelmed and run out of money. From their estimates, it is responsible to think that the Government is grossly underestimating the amount of people that are going to apply and qualify for this benefit. the current funding will run out quickly, people will be refused for trivial reasons and many will be calling foul shortly. I do not believe that this plan is sustainable in the long term and neither do they. it is quite simply the usual band-aid approach of throwing something together and hoping something sticks. Lord help us if this recession is worse or last for longer than their estimates.

    And isn’t this the same FNM that said the workers of the Bahamas could not afford anymore deductions when basically this same deduction was proposed to fund the National Health Insurance initiative? Talk about speaking with a forked tongue!

    One more thing, does anyone know how up to date government agencies/corporations are with their NIB payments?

  16. The name of the benefit does not matter and if it has a negative spin on it that does not matter, all that matters is if it works. Mr. Ingraham is no saviour he did what he had to do because the amount of people that are jobless is overwhelming. Some of the unemployment was a direct result of decision made by Mr. Ingraham as well but we have to face facts. This is a necessary scheme and should not be politicized. Mr. Ingraham speaks of the scheme as if it is his own money that he grudgingly has to give to people. Those people have contributed to NIB and therefore deserve some help from the funds that they have contributed to because of course when the do start working again we all we be taxed to put the money back. The FNM is operating as if they have no idea what they are doing and are flying by the seats of their pants. The next election is not going to be a regular mudslinging election because there will be a lot of young people looking for change.

  17. WOW; I truly believe that come next election there will be a change in many people’s mind this will be a different electorate from the last time I feel this in my bones.

    However on Joe Blows idle chatter, I have come to respect Joe’s views on a whole host of subjects since I have been blogging here I don’t think that Joe’s blogs here are idle Ibelieve that they are insightful and very to the point with a clear vision for the future ….now if Joe has an ulterior motive then eventually it will show its ugly head ….this is a very fair blog site and I do welcome and appreciate every one’s opinion even if we disagree …as I always state here Iam a very liberal person and I believe that Joe is very conservative so it makes for great conversation and as for you WOW i must give kudos to you as well for being a great blogger and having much insight yourself on a whole host of issues.

  18. Prime minister Ingraham must give the credit to Sir Lynden Oscar Pindling and his fellow mps for having the vision,wisdom and courage to implement National Insurance.The FNM and the Tribune claimed that’Pindling want tief your money,’and that National Insurance was a ‘ponzi’scheme.It is National Insurance money that has built the numerous government subdivisions and medical clinics.Yes,National Insurance money have been used to fund the operations of Water And Sewerage,Bahamasair,and finance the construction of government office complexes.As a result of these successes which spring from the vision and labour of our Bahamian heroes of yester year i cannot give any credit to the present government nor the opposition.Indeed the money to start this unemployment benefit came from National Insurance,however it is my opinion that mr.Ingraham has under funded this scheme and it will not be able to perform properly because of the lack of capital.Mr.Ingraham should have allowed the scheme to collect 2-3 years of revenue before any claims will be allowed.The number and the percentage amount of deductions from employees and employers are also too low.In short this scheme cannot work as presently consituted.

  19. rb75 :
    It does not matter what you call it Joe/Wow it is a clean up after the ice berg that Hubert Ingraham lead the ship into so this is not a benefit as it stands right now all this is at the moment is a reprieve to help the jobs that this administration have cost the Bahamian people through their reckless decisions and bad policies when they assumed office in 2007.
    I do agree that we need an unemployment benifit and we also need National Health Insurance but to do this we need the revenue ;which means we need a different tax structure as well as new ways for government to earn revenue without the middle class carrying the tax burden….for the life of me I don’t understand why we do not have proportionate NIB payment brackets what NIB has done has stopped at a certain point so if you are making 150,000 dollars per year you pay the same contributions as the person who is making 20k or 40k per year ;they talk about boosting NIB revenue this will be a way to do so add another bracket so if you go over 50k per year then you will have to pay 16 dollars per week and if you go over 100k per year then you will pay 21 dollars per week this will add a huge boost to NIB …..Then there is legalisation of the number houses if we are serious about earning revenue legalise the number houses and tax them until the cows come home if for instance they say the number houses make about 10 million per week if the government was receiving 7% of that some you are looking to about 700k per week in the public treasury and then you can also tax the winnings as well as a stamp tax on every dollar so you would have a huge deposit into the public purse every week that can fill the void in the governments deficit……then there is the unemployment benefit which should be put together with the National Health Insurance there should be a National Health and unemployment service created where employers and employee’s contribute it should be 10cents on the dollar for everyone that is employed with the employer paying 5 cents on the companies gross profit .
    That is why I continue to say our laws need liberlisation
    [Reply]

    rb75, do not that Joe’s words as idle chatter, it does matter what you call it. Bahamians have short memories and 3 years from now when hopefully the economy is much better and we are getting ready for elections, nobody will remember these rough times and the FNM will be singing the praises of the “Employment Insurance Benefit” program which sounds much nicer than UNEMPLOYMENT benefit scheme, which will remind people of this roller coaster ride the Ingraham administration set us off on.

    Joe Blow is a dangerous man.

  20. RB75: That’s what I like about you and your contributions. You think outsge the box and are positive. We will have to face the need for income tax implementation sooner or later. 10% across the board sounds fair to me. In the beginning one might want to start at 3% and make increments till they reach the 10%. At the same time, a lot of oversite regulations should be in the mix along with enforcable and enforcing regulations. It won’t be popular but we have to face the inevitability of this. Keep income tax separate from N.I. though. I would also support a tax on numbers, beer and liquor and cigarettes and use that money for the health care system. Some countries support a 25% tax on business profits but based on “net”.

  21. WOW: Since I will never have to avail myself of these benefits, I feel quite free to suggest a name change. Other countries have made the change because there are those who think that unemployment insurance connotes a negative and implies that dreaded word “welfare”. This part of my contribution was directed to the Government, not to you. It had nothing to do with politics. It is much more productive to build deserving persons up than to constantly berate them. Why not just direct your comments to a possible Housing Benefit Scheme and be as positive or negative as you like! You, too much, like to bring everything to your political point of view.

  22. It does not matter what you call it Joe/Wow it is a clean up after the ice berg that Hubert Ingraham lead the ship into so this is not a benefit as it stands right now all this is at the moment is a reprieve to help the jobs that this administration have cost the Bahamian people through their reckless decisions and bad policies when they assumed office in 2007.

    I do agree that we need an unemployment benifit and we also need National Health Insurance but to do this we need the revenue ;which means we need a different tax structure as well as new ways for government to earn revenue without the middle class carrying the tax burden….for the life of me I don’t understand why we do not have proportionate NIB payment brackets what NIB has done has stopped at a certain point so if you are making 150,000 dollars per year you pay the same contributions as the person who is making 20k or 40k per year ;they talk about boosting NIB revenue this will be a way to do so add another bracket so if you go over 50k per year then you will have to pay 16 dollars per week and if you go over 100k per year then you will pay 21 dollars per week this will add a huge boost to NIB …..Then there is legalisation of the number houses if we are serious about earning revenue legalise the number houses and tax them until the cows come home if for instance they say the number houses make about 10 million per week if the government was receiving 7% of that sum, you are looking to about 700k per week in the public treasury and then you can also tax the winnings as well as a stamp tax on every dollar so you would have a huge deposit into the public purse every week that can fill the void in the governments deficit……then there is the unemployment benefit which should be put together with the National Health Insurance there should be a National Health and unemployment service created where employers and employee’s contribute it should be 10cents on the dollar for everyone that is employed with the employer paying 5 cents on the companies gross profit .

    That is why I continue to say our laws need liberlisation

  23. Joe Blow :
    I wonder if the Government might consider a name change, from an Unemployment Benefit Scheme to Employment Insurance Benefits. This would not change the essence of the scheme but puts a more positive spin on the package, especially as, at least in the future, both the employer and employees will be making direct contributions. While I believe this type of program should have been introduced several years ago, I applaud this Government for doing so now. It should help counter,to a small degree, the impact to our country of the recession we are now facing. In times of high employment the fund will grow and a reserve will be built up so that those workers who are “laid-off” due to national disasters will be able to collect enough money to pay for at least the bare necessities for their families. Thank you Mr. Ingraham and Al and the Opposition for supporting and passing this Bill and its policies and regulations. By working together you have restored a little of our confidence in the ability of elected officials to do the work of the people. As an addition, I wonder if in the future, Government might consider a Housing Benefit Scheme. While I have not thought this through yet, it would also be a deduction process whereby employees could opt to have deductions made from their salaries and in times of severe economic turndown be guaranteed that their mortgage or rent would be paid for a specific time. Just a thought! Perhaps the bloggers could think on it and make a comment.
    [Reply]

    You never cease to amaze me! Why would you want to put a “positive spin” on the package? So the Gov doesn’t look bad because all of these people are labeled unemployed maybe?

    The name just as it is, if the recipients are uncomfortable with the name, maybe it will motivate them to get employed quicker.

  24. I wonder if the Government might consider a name change, from an Unemployment Benefit Scheme to Employment Insurance Benefits. This would not change the essence of the scheme but puts a more positive spin on the package, especially as, at least in the future, both the employer and employees will be making direct contributions. While I believe this type of program should have been introduced several years ago, I applaud this Government for doing so now. It should help counter,to a small degree, the impact to our country of the recession we are now facing. In times of high employment the fund will grow and a reserve will be built up so that those workers who are “laid-off” due to national disasters will be able to collect enough money to pay for at least the bare necessities for their families. Thank you Mr. Ingraham and Al and the Opposition for supporting and passing this Bill and its policies and regulations. By working together you have restored a little of our confidence in the ability of elected officials to do the work of the people. As an addition, I wonder if in the future, Government might consider a Housing Benefit Scheme. While I have not thought this through yet, it would also be a deduction process whereby employees could opt to have deductions made from their salaries and in times of severe economic turndown be guaranteed that their mortgage or rent would be paid for a specific time. Just a thought! Perhaps the bloggers could think on it and make a comment.

  25. ronica7;

    They will never admit to this….what really gets me is that not one person would hold the FNM feet to the fire on the issue of their government from 92-02 when he left office in 2002 the country was in a downturn and our tourism product was in a tailspin and yet it is the same Hubert that cam back in 2007 and killed any chances that our economy would off been a little slow and according to major reports by S&P and Moody’s we would off been able to sustain any blow back from a major downturn in the global economy.

  26. And to add to all of the above we were all under the impression that he tured the economy around all through 1997-2002 during the campaign trail the lie was perpetrated by the “wutles media”, the “toilet paper tribune”
    in particular. It was said that the then prime minister was responsible for the economic downturn at the time, not withstanding the gulf war.

    I call on this same prime minister to turn this economy around do not blame global conditions, you did not blame global conditions in 1992, but now it is global in 2009. As an aside the employment rate has to be at an all time high but the fnm and their symphatizers, are saying unemployment is at 12% not as high as 1992. Give me a break, if it behooves the governement to introduce an unemployment benfefit, that was never implemented before( because the then prime minister, who by the way had the vision to introduce a national insurance scheme, would have done so.)It shows the egregious level of unemployment in this country

  27. Wow……You took the words right out of my mouth

    Hubert and the FNM put a wrench in our economy they stopped and reviewed investments that was already approved …they stopped the straw market they stopped the road development project that HAI said would have been underway by now HAI told of S&P and drove away any potential investors by cancelling the Nassau redevelopment port deal ……however this unemployment scheme is not the first one under Huber what about the funds from last year which he borrowed to give social service for the help desk I have to ask isn’t this the same thing …..I agree that we needed to do something about the situation but what they are not addressing is the number of Bahamian’s who are falling behind in their mortgages and many people having to choose between buying food or paying their bills .Hubert is only cleaning up the big fat mess that he created with his careless and reckless stewardship of our country .

  28. @WOW!
    Not only that WOW but you practically have to take an examination to get any money and even then you can still be denied. We all know that unemployment benefits was coming under under govt. in this recession but Mr. Ingraham administration really so not think ahead. Come on, register with Ministry of Labour, I know of someone that registered with Labour in 2003 or 4 and to this day they still haven’t heard a word back from them. Even though registering there should be the last, last resort. I wonder how many people in the country actually got a job through the ministry, that would be interesting to know.

  29. I wonder how many of those people had a job when that rally picture was taken and are now unemployed because of the reckless way the FNM has governed since coming to power again?

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