Law passed to recover Covid unemployment overpayments
Government has passed legislation that will enable it to recover overpayments of unemployment benefit more effectively.
The Public Treasury (Administration and Payments) Amendment and Validation Act 2021 (the Act) was passed in the House of Assembly yesterday following a brief debate
Curtis Dickinson, the minister of finance, explained that more than 10,000 people had applied for benefits after losing their jobs through the coronavirus pandemic.
Demand was “overwhelming and substantial” he said.
But he said around 2,500 people were overpaid because, when they returned to work, they failed to notify Government immediately.
He said that Government was still to recover $2.6 million from 2,075 applicants.
He said the amendments would enable Government to get the funds back by deducting them from future benefits payments rather than going to court.
The Opposition supported the move and acknowledged that Government had been placed in an unprecedented position when the virus first struck.
But Cole Simons, the Opposition leader, questioned why legislation to make debt recovery more effective wasn’t put in place earlier.
He said: ‘This Government has a habit of making decisions and not put proper protocols in place before programmes are rolled out.
“I know the horse has left the stable but let this be a lesson to the minister.”
Mr Dickinson replied by apologising for not being clairvoyant.