Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves announced this week that seafarers and other persons currently receiving income support under the Displacement Supplementary Income Programme will continue to do so up to December 2020 with the possibility of a further extension into the new year if necessary.
The programme which was set to expire at the end of September has been extended for a further three (3) months the Prime Minister said while speaking on radio.
He noted that the Prime Minister of neighbouring country St. Lucia announced recently that his country could not afford its current Covid-19 programme.
“Chastanet say he has to stop that because it is costing 1 million dollars US a month.”
“When I say no we ain’t going to do it that way, remember how they come down on me? As the woman in Park Hill tell me, the elderly lady, she say Comrade you does see round corners.”
“Now, leadership matters and I looked at the September numbers and I could tell you this, compare to last year, up to September last year, the revenue outturn for this year is up, total revenue and grants up by 8.5%. Current revenue is up 3.4%. In other places in the OECS, is 25 to 15% down.”
“The Opposition ain’t talking about Covid. They ain’t talking about how we holding the thing together and how we doing better. If we were in the position like the others, you would have hear them, and by the way, we ain’t selling passports. We ain’t selling citizenship.”
Prime Minister Gonsalves said that he rejected calls by persons to pay the hotel quarantine cost of nationals returning from overseas as unsustainable and damaging to the local economy. He reasoned that it cost roughly $300ec a night at the hotel, and if government was to take up this tab, then they would not have been in a position to offer the income support to sailors and other displaced workers.
He claims that the NDP wanted him to use monies that were identified to buffer regional air transportation to pay for quarantine facilities. Citing his government’s approach of prudence and enterprise, PM Gonsalves told listeners that he was heavily criticized but he came on radio sometimes three times a day to persuade the population that the approach his government was taking made sense.
Citing the case of St. Lucia, the Prime Minister said St. Vincent and the Grenadines has done better than any of its neighbours since the pandemic. He added that by December, he will have over $83 million dollars at the Central bank.
Eligible persons under the programme are currently receiving $300 monthly which is being facilitated through the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) but funded by central government.