We asked the PM if the government will consider giving employers money to keep people on staff, even when revenue is sharply cut. Here's what he said:..
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow- Prime Minister
"There is no unemployment insurance. In cases where some people have to be quarantined, have to be sent home for 14 days, of course SSB will pay that as a benefit but your larger question. I just tried to detail how much money we are trying to raise and I said that with respect, certainly with the tour guides, the idea is to try to have a relief fund for them. In terms of the employers, a part from them getting the moratoriums on the repayment of current loans. There will be the advances that they will have to try to keep things going. I don't know that it will be enough to enable every employer who is going to be terribly hit or who is already terribly hit by this business, to keep all there staff. There is no doubt people are going to be laid off and that is why first call on the fund is to make sure that they can be made as whole as possible in the interim, in so far as government itself actually finding the kind of cash needed to give each and every single employer who finds himself on the back foot. I can't tell you that we will are able to go that far. If we can we will."
Jules Vasquez- Reporter
"Is there any thought, you alluded to it just now, to suspend GST payments or Social Security payments as an incentive for those who can afford to keep their employees?"
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow
"Well, as the chairman of SSB said to us this morning, those contributions are due by law and they are obliged to seek to collect those contributions. Again, I had somebody try to do some calculations and if you look at something like 25 thousand employed and we tried to, through social security, kind of insure, informally, the wage of those persons, we are looking at a cost of, well the person said SSB but SSB is being clear, you are on your own with this. At something like $2.5 million dollars per week, that is $20 million dollars in a worse case scenario and that's 8 weeks of stability. That's $20 of the $25 million we are borrowing already gone. But as I said, there are these additional amounts that put us at $75 million. So, I think that's our first responsibility- to deal with the unemployed in terms of the employers, that is a second responsibility."