For financial assistance, call 621-3618, 621-3400, or 604-4645

The COVID-19 Unemployment Relief Program

Outline of Program

The Co-Chairs of the COVID-19 National Oversight
Committee agreed on March 16, 2020 to establish the Economic Oversight Team
[EOT] to, among other things, oversee the establishment and operationalization
of this Unemployment Relief Program.  This
program offers financial assistance to meet the needs of workers who, having
been terminated or laid off, cannot earn all of their work income and are not
eligible for another financial assistance program. This Program is guided by
the need to ensure transparency and fairness in operations and proper
accountability mechanisms
.

The program is being developed under guidelines approved by the
Co-chairs, and with the support and collaboration of the Ministry of Finance,
the Social Security Board, Belize Tourism Board, Government’s Central
Information Technology Office and the Economic Oversight Team who have the
following responsibilities:

Ministry of Finance.

On behalf of the Government of Belize, the Ministry of Finance is
responsible for providing the funds to the Program, which is being done through
borrowing both locally through the Central Bank and internationally through
relations with the International Financial Institutions [IFIs]

Social Security Board [SSB]

As the Paying Agent, the SSB is responsible for making the payments to
individuals who are approved to receive Unemployment Relief on behalf of the
Government of Belize.  The SSB is not the approver and is not making
payments from its own funds, but from the funds provided by the Government of
Belize

Belize Tourism Board [BTB]

The BTB is assisting for helping to identify the persons who are
employers and employees in the Tourism industry so that they can be reached,
verified for approval and assisted as quickly as possible

Central Information Technology Office [CITO]

CITO is designing and implementing the e-Gov portal which will be the
system which will be used to manage the Unemployment Relief Program from
Application to Approval to Payments to Individual. 

Economic Oversight Team [EOT]

The EOT is overseeing the implementation of the Program, ensuring the
collaboration among the agencies that is important to successful and quick
implementation and continuous oversight to prevent abuse by persons who are not
eligible to receive payments from the Program.

  

Who can benefit from the Covid-19 Unemployment Relief Program?

This program offers financial relief to persons as follows:    

  1. Recently Unemployed because of COVID-19: – Employees and self-employed persons who have lost their jobs and income as a result of
    the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy, particularly but not solely, the tourism sector will receive $150 every two weeks for a 12 week period.    
  2. Long term Unemployed:- Persons who would have been unemployed prior to the
    onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and are now experiencing even more difficult circumstances, will receive $100 every two weeks for a 12-week period.
    These persons will also be referred to the Ministry of Human Development for consideration for further assistance through the social programs operated by that ministry.

Individuals who can benefit from the Covid-19 Unemployment
Relief Program include:

·      Tour guides

·        Office Staff

·        Cleaners/Janitors/Room Attendants

·        Kitchen and Dining Room Staff

·        Bus/Van Drivers

·        Store clerks

·        Mechanics

·        Construction workers connected to tourism related projects

·        Border point and free zone workers

·       Independent operators such as:

    Freelance guides,

              Vendors,

              Hair braiders,

              Entertainers

              Fishermen

              Taxi operators

              Border point and free zone workers

  Others which may be added

Excluded Persons

·       Persons who are not Belizean nationals, are not eligible for Long Term Unemployment Relief.

·        Persons laid off in March 2020 by the Belize Tourism Board

·        Persons under 18 years of age

·        Persons receiving benefits from other government or social
security programs – no double dipping

How Long will the Relief payment be made and how?

·        The temporary Relief payments will be made every two weeks for a
period of 12 weeks, unless the person becomes employed before the expiration of
such period, at which time the payment would stop.

·        Payment will be made by Social Security Board on behalf of
Government directly into the bank account of the beneficiary or via a prepaid
(or other prefunded) card that can be topped up.

When does it start?

  • The application form will be online by April 3, 2020. A public announcement
    will be made once the form is available;
  • Once applications are received, the verification and approval process will
    immediately begin;
  • Verification is being automated so it will be a quick process;
  • Relief payments should commence in the week of April 6, 2020.

 

Steps for filing an application

1.    You will start by filling out the application form

    •       You will be able to fill out the form online. 
    •       You will also be able to download a copy form to fill in by hand.
    •       You will be able to pick up a hard copy at locations to be designated

2.      You will be sent a notification by email or SMS that your
application for financial assistance has been received.

    • If you ask for messages to be delivered by email, please make sure you input your
      email address correctly and check your spam folder if you do not see a
      reply in your inbox

3.      If your application for Unemployment Relief is approved, payments
will be made by direct deposit to your bank or credit union account or by a
Top-Up Prepaid ATM Card.

We strongly urge you to apply online as this will be the method that will result in
the quickest response to your application.
This is because your application will immediately enter into the system
for processing.

If, however, you do not have access to Internet, you can also apply by picking up a
hard copy of the Application Form from the Labour Department Offices or the
Social Security Board Offices in each district.
As other locations are added, this will be notified on this page.

Please bear in mind that if you submit a hard copy of the application, someone will
have to then input that information into the processing system after you have
sent in the form.

You will be asked to consent to your information being exchanged between ministries,
agencies of the Government, your bank or credit union for verification and
compliance purposes.