The Solomon Islands National Provident Fund (SINPF) Head Quarters this morning was packed to the brim as members of the public turned up in numbers to enquire about the availability of the SBD5,000-benefit announcement made on Friday last week.
The Solomon Islands Herald can confirm that the walkway in front of SINPF’s main entrance at their Point Cruz office couldn’t be accessed this morning as members of the Fund turned up in hundreds to verify last Friday’s announcement.
In a nationwide address on the 27th of March, the Solomon Islands Prime Minister Hon. Manasseh Sogavare declared that Solomon Islands is currently sailing on uncharted waters and that SINPF is directed to financially help its members cope with the effects of COVID-19.
Interestingly, even SINPF’s website is yet to formalize the PM’s announcement by way of a press release but an official statement carrying similar explanations to that of the PM is released by the Fund in the local dailies today.
Taking into account the content of both the PM’s address plus the statement released by the Fund today, most probably not everyone under 50 years will be eligible to receive the benefit unless a different explanation is offered by the SINPF management anytime soon.
The PM clearly states that “a sum of SBD5,000 [will] be made available to members under the age of 50 years who are temporarily laid off and or repatriated home due to the effects of the COVID-19.”
It might be challenging for the Fund to verify who is still working and who is not.
However, if they do have the capability to identify the employment status of every member, most probably those who are still working may not be able to receive the promised benefit judging from the PM’s words.
Solomon Islands Herald this afternoon checked with SINPF and can confirm that they’re currently dealing with a large number of people.
“We’ve told them that applications for the benefit will open on Wednesday but most of them are still here,” confirmed a SINPF employee who requested anonymity.
“When I came in this morning, I have to force my way through the wall of people standing in front of the entrance.
“I didn’t go out for lunch today because there are still so many people outside,” she laughed.
Asked whether they let the people in, the employee confirmed that they’ve been allowing only five people in at a time since they’ve open this morning.
But one member of the public at the scene this morning told Solomon Islands Herald that she was worried about the way people are responding to the announcement.
“We should avoid coming together in huge numbers like this. If the virus is here, it will spread like wild fire in this town,” warns the worried commuter.
The worried commuter has a valid call now that the government is encouraging social distancing.
One senior citizen, on the other hand, told Solomon Islands Herald that SINPF should think of a better way to administer this benefit now that the government is taking serious measures to avoid the spread of the deadly virus.
“Perhaps putting the $5k directly into people’s bank accounts will prevent people from flocking into SINPF’s offices in large numbers like this
“But whether every member has a bank account is a totally different story altogether,” said the senior citizen.
Meanwhile, the National Broadcaster, SIBC, last night confirmed that SINPF members who want to be part of the benefit must lodge their application from the 1st of April to the end of June, 2020.
Therefore, People shouldn’t be seen at the SINPF head office as yet as applications to access the benefit won’t be opened until Wednesday this week.