Just under 24,000 people have put in claims for unemployment benefits at the National Insurance Scheme (NIS), Minister in the Ministry of Finance Ryan Straughn said.
“The reality is that there are a number of expectations placed on all Government Departments given the immediate impact of COVID-19,” Straughn said while speaking in the lower house on the Income Tax Amendment Bill (2020).
“The National Insurance Department, up until a couple of days ago, had received just short of 24,000 unemployment claims. Those claims have to be processed.”
Minister Straughn also asked Barbadians to be mindful of the pressure being placed on Government agencies to deliver funds during the trying COVID-19 period.
“At this very frustrating time I ask persons to be as patient as possible as various institutions work through what they have to do in order to respond to Barbadians. The same way that persons are making contact with respect to the household survival programme, persons are making contact with respect to the welfare department, people are making contact with regards to the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) … We are working to ensure that the technology and the technological processes are as efficient as possible. Some persons traditionally don’t remember their passwords. They don’t remember what they use when they sign up for TAMIS…,” he said.
Straughn urged Barbadians to play their part in making the processes easier so they can be completed in a timely manner.
“Whether it is income tax, whether it is unemployment benefits or sickness benefit, [I want you] to use the opportunity to provide your banking or credit union account information so the processing of these things can be much smoother that is important. It means you don’t have to wait for a cheque to come the money goes directly into your bank account so that you would have greater access. We are trying to eliminate lines to get cash. The agencies can better manage the processing of the distribution of the funds…”
Straughn praised the BRA for paying income tax returns to a large number of people who were owed for previous years.
“I know that the Barbados Revenue Authority, because of the build-up taxes that was owed to them, over time is not the most favourite place for Barbadians. But we have started to repay a significant amount of those tax refund. There may still be a few persons who are owed a few refunds, which will be resolved as we go through this process.
He continued: “I want to appeal to those persons to who tax credits apply as well as the compensatory credit, to file their incomes taxes as soon as possible so that the processing of those funds can be done as quickly as possible so that we are in the best position to start to respond.” (IMC)