The Disaster Unemployment Aid program that is being handled by the CNMI Department of Labor has been allotted $11 million to help workers who were laid off or have been working shorter hours as a result of Super Typhoon Yutu or Typhoon Mangkhut.
According to Labor Secretary Vicky Benavente, the department requested a budget of $11 million from the U.S Department of Labor for the DUA program in order to assist up to 3,000 individuals.
Department of Labor director of employment Eugene Tebuteb added that that amount is not concrete and could still change, depending on the number of individuals who need assistance.
“[$11 million] is not concrete and could be modified to accommodate the number of applicants,” he said.
Speaking at the Society of Human Resources Management meeting last Thursday at the Hyatt Regency Saipan ballroom, Benavente and members of the Department of Labor provided information about the DUA program in order for the information to be disseminated to affected employees.
Benavente said that eligible DUA individuals will be given either $336 or $335, depending on which disaster aid they are applying for, either Super Typhoon Yutu or Typhoon Mangkhut.
As of last Thursday, a total of 1,800 applications were submitted to the department.
“We have 1,800 applications and I’m estimating out of 3,000, and only 1,800 came in, we’re still expecting 1,200. We could have more because we don’t know if all the 1,800 will be eligible. We can at least accept 1,200 more applicants,” Benavente said.
The department is encouraging everyone affected to apply.
“We’re encouraging everyone to apply. Let’s review your application. We have a limited budget…$11 million was our requested budget…but just keep it [applications] coming…,” said Benavente.
The department has already asked for a deadline extension on the submission of applications, to move it to Jan. 16, 2019, instead of Dec. 16, 2018.
Tebuteb said the DUA program is intended to aid workers whose jobs were affected by of Super Typhoon Yutu or Typhoon Mangkhut.
“It has to be related to the typhoon. When the typhoon hit and an employee was affected, meaning they were laid off or their regular working hours were reduced, then they qualify. Its also for sole proprietorships, like if you’re self-employed and it’s your primary source of income. It’s also for like fishermen and farmers,” he said.