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August 10,2020
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Tuesday 4 August, 2020

Minister asks citizens not to crowd social welfare, NIB offices

Minister of Social Development and Family Services, Camille Robinson-Regis, made the appeal today.

Minister of Social Development and Family Services, Camille Robinson-Regis, made the appeal today.

The Minister of Social Development and Family Services, Camille Robinson-Regis, is appealing to citizens to stop crowding the Ministry and National Insurance Board (NIB) offices.

Citizens have reportedly been flocking to government offices after measures put in place to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) have left some businesses temporarily closed and people out of work. The government has since announced a number of grants and other relief packages that will be made available to those affected. 

Robinson-Regis said, however, that while she empathises with those who have lost their jobs and now face uncertainty in terms of being able to make ends meet, large gatherings at these offices make it difficult for employees to render assistance.

The Minister said, starting from Thursday 26 March, customer service representatives (CSRs) will be at all social welfare offices across Trinidad and Tobago to deal specifically with those people facing job losses because of the COVID-19 fallout.

“Let me make the point that the persons that we are dealing with specifically at this time are those persons who may have been retrenched, terminated or got a reduction in their salary because of the current circumstances. And I mean circumstances that may have begun from March 1st.”

The Minister said that specifically pertains to people who are employed in the businesses affected by the Public Health Ordinance issued in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are talking about persons who may have worked at a bar – either licensed or unlicensed – and are not now working because that bar is closed. Persons who were working in a club, and that club has been closed - you are the person we are talking to. Persons who worked at a theatre, persons who worked at a cinema, persons who worked at a gaming house or betting office - those are the persons that we are talking to. Persons who may have been working in a restaurant that is now closed and so you are no longer employed or you may be getting a reduced salary.”

Robinson-Regis said the NIB would be dealing with those people who belonged to a registered business, but emphasized that the NIB is not yet ready to dispense the Salary Relief Grants announced by the Minister of Finance last Friday. The Minister of Finance had said the guidelines on that grant would be out in seven days.

For all other employees within affected industries, as well as those who were self-employed in these industries, their cases will be handled by the Ministry of Social Development and Family Affairs.

Robinson-Regis also advised that the Ministry of Labour and Small Enterprise Development has launched an online portal where affected citizens can submit their information, removing the need to go into an office. 

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Social Development publicised its hotline number, which people can call for information on the social support measures available from the Ministry.  The Ministry’s toll-free number is 800 – 1MSD (1673).

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