People wait in line outside the National Insurance Board (NIB) in San Fernando yesterday, to apply for salary relief grants.


Scores of people turned up in front of the National Insurance Board of T&T (NIBTT) in San Fernando yesterday seeking to apply for the salary relief grant for workers who lost their jobs as a result of measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert on Monday announced that people who lost their jobs will be able to access a grant of $1,500 a month for three months.

When contacted yesterday, NIBTT informed Guardian Media that the grant was not yet available to members of the public.

“Please do not visit our offices to enquire about this facility, as large gatherings pose a serious risk to our employees, customers and members of the public,” stated NIBTT in a subsequent media release.

NIBTT, however, assured that “as soon as this facility is available and operationalized, further public communication by the organization will follow.”

From early yesterday morning, people gathered at the front gate, the majority wanting to apply for the grant.

Around 9.30 am, more than ten people were still in front of the building, some standing at the gate while others stood on the opposite side of the road. Only four customers were allowed into the building at a time.

A 38-year-old store clerk from Barrackpore who was sent home two weeks ago said she had been waiting for more than a half an hour. “My bosses not telling me whether they will give me two or three days a week (work). So when I heard that the minister is going to give $1,500 a month to people who are lose their work I came this morning to see what help I could get.”

However, she complained that she was employed at the store for a year, but her employer failed to pay her NIS contributions. “I brought all my documents and receipts where I use to pay NIS from the other jobs I work and I hoping I could get some kind of help.” Agnes Logan, 64, said she was waiting more than an hour to collect a form.