Unemployment benefit scheme may be extended

  • Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance (File photograph)

The government emergency unemployment benefits scheme set up over the Covid-19 crisis could be extended, The finance minister signalled yesterday.

Curtis Dickinson said the programme, at first scheduled to run for 12 weeks, is being “assessed”.

Mr Dickinson was speaking after questions from Scott Pearman, an Opposition MP, in the House of Assembly.

The next round of payments to laid-off workers is scheduled to be made next Friday.

Mr Dickinson was also asked about an extension of a three-month payroll tax freeze, a relief measure for the hard-hit bars and restaurants, which will end on June 30.

Mr Dickinson said the lifeline came “at a cost to government revenues” and that he was trying to wrestle the Government’s deficit down by $150 million.

He added: “We would have to look at it on a quarter by quarter basis, and assess appropriately.”

Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, the shadow finance minister, asked about a $150 million loan deal signed yesterday.

Mr Dickinson said it had been agreed with HSBC and Clarien Bank, with an interest rate “in the range of 4 and 4¼ per cent”.