Thursday, July 18, 2024

SSB Chairman Doug Singh resigns after controversial remarks regarding COVID-19 Unemployment Relief Program


doug singh covid-19 relief fundOn Tuesday, April 14th, Douglas Singh resigned as Chairman of the Social Security Board (SSB) and Director of Belize Telemedia Limited and Chairman of the Elections and Boundaries Commission. His sudden resignation came on the heels of an interview in which he candidly expressed his frustration with Belizeans over the COVID-19 Unemployment Relief Program. Throughout the telephone interview, Singh made inflammatory remarks against the applicants who applied for the relief fund. It is alleged that his resignation is tied to that audio leak.

Singh’s statements quickly drew ire on social media as the expletive-filled audio made its rounds. Many have spoken out, deeming his words “disrespectful and disparaging” saying how he speaks “about our Belizean people is intolerable!” The recording has Singh first saying that ‘It’s hard to listen to people complain when they’re being given something for free”, further stating that “those getting help are lucky.” Singh called on the media to make a balanced report, and asked citizens to dial in and note how other countries are telling its citizens it “will take weeks, months…[and that their] systems are collapsing.” Whereas, according to him, the Relief Program has people working 24/7 to try and disburse payments as quickly as possible.

In his resignation letter, Singh pointed out that the tasks as Chairman of the SSB were challenging, he found comfort for serving at the request of a great leader- Prime Minister Right Honourable Dean Barrow. Singh wrote that he did his best while at the job and maintained the full integrity that was expected of him.

As of April 14th, 62,706 applications have been received via the COVID-19 eServices Portal, in addition to a lesser amount received in hard copy, for the COVID-19 Unemployment Relief Program. A total of 7,247 applications have been approved and sent to the SSB for payment. Approximately 7,500 additional applications are currently being processed and should be ready for approval, in stages, by tomorrow, Wednesday, April 15th.

The program was designed to offer financial assistance to meet the needs of workers who have been laid off as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. It also provides relief to persons who were unemployed prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and are now experiencing even more difficult circumstances.

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