$200 million in unemployment income support to Fijians affected by COVID-19 in the formal and informal sector has been announced.
However eligible Fijians now have at least three weeks to ensure that they get at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in order to qualify for government aid.
Economy Minister, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says no jabs means no assistance because the government will only help eligible individuals who have received at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine before the application period ends.
Starting 1 August 2021, every affected Fijian will be entitled to a monthly allowance of $120 for six months, which will be paid in two lump-sum payments.
The first lump-sum payout of $360 per person will be done in August to cater for 3 months, with a total estimated payout of around $100 million.
It will target those above the age of 18, living in Viti Levu and not benefiting from any social welfare payments, education allowances, other government-funded assistance or withdrawals from Fiji National Provident Fund.
“We will make the second payment of $360 in November to eligible Fijians provided they are fully vaccinated by 31 October, with a total estimated payout of an additional $100 million. This payment will cater for the 3 months ending January 2022. We will make medical exceptions for those with a certificate from the PS for Health and Medical Services”.
Sayed-Khaiyum adds individuals will be required to apply for this assistance, and payouts will be made using M-Paisa and My-Cash platforms.
“It will also be mandatory for applicants to provide their birth registration number and their tax identification number apart from other details. This is necessary because assistance is being paid out on an individual basis. So, for example, if there are four eligible individuals per household, the household will receive an unemployment payout of $1,440 dollars for the first payment and an additional $1,440 for second payment. A household with 10 eligible individuals will receive a total payment of $7,200 directly from Government.”
The earlier initiative where unemployed Fijians were eligible for $220 fortnightly payout from FNPF will continue for members with sufficient General Account balances.
All those who have exhausted their General Account balances or do not want to access their General Account balance will be eligible for the $720 per person payout under the new initiative.