Press Release: UN COVID-19 Assessment Recommends a BVI Unemployment Fund

Date: Wednesday, July 8, 2020

‘Expanded income support, the provision of liquidity for small businesses to preserve jobs and the design and implementation of gender responsive social policy’ are three of the recommendations outlined in the new UN Human and Economic Impact AssessmenT (HEAT) Report for the British Virgin Islands. The Report also suggests an extension for work permit holders to find new jobs and the development of a permanent unemployment benefit fund. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNICEF and UN Women have conducted an analysis of the current socio-economic state of the country in order to support Government’s relief and recovery efforts. The report, part of the UN’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, outlines a number of interventions aimed at ensuring the country can weather further shocks and rebuild in the wake of the current crisis.

Decisive action from the BVI government in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as its commitment to robust testing was the key to success in containment. Withstanding the economic shocks, however, will likely be difficult for a country still recovering from the devastation of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.  In this vein, the study recommends examining the use of the framework created for the Financial Assistance Programme after those Hurricanes, to provide temporary, income support of USD$12 million at the lower end and the rigorous assessment of the current levels of poverty to inform the design and implementation of a gender-responsive Public Assistance Programme. The assessment models a series of possible impacts on economic growth, poverty and government finances and offers a range of fiscal, regulatory and social policy proposals aimed at accelerating post-COVID-19 recovery and mitigating the severe impacts of the pandemic.

The BVI report is the third in a series of 8 studies conducted within the region to support Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean countries in their response to the COVID-19 crisis. These HEAT reports are part of the wider response of the UN under the 8-pillar Multi-Sectoral Response Plan (MRP). The assessments fall under the Economic Recovery and Livelihoods pillar, which is led by UNDP. The other key pillars include Health and Wellness, Food and Nutrition Security and Standards, Education, Social Protection, Gender Based Violence and, Violence Against Children, Human Rights and Logistics and Supply.

To download the full report, visit: bb.undp.org