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Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves. (IWN file photo)
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves. (IWN file photo)
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Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves used his Independence Address on Thursday to announce that he will soon order the release of a number of young prisoners, and make permanent the appointment of a hundred clerks in the public service.

Gonsalves told the Independence Parade at Victoria Park that in a week or two, after a review that is underway is completed by the competent authorities, he intends to advise the Governor General to order the release of some young men and women who are serving terms of imprisonment “for relatively minor offences”.

“I consider that in all the circumstances that these young persons ought to be given a second chance. This is the internationally proclaimed Year of Mercy by persons of faith and we ought to exercise it appropriately to deal with young persons and others,” said Gonsalves, a Catholic.

He announced that 110 persons who are employed as temporary clerks, some of them for several years in the public service, will all be employed with permanent status from Jan. 1, 2017.

“This will provide them with the necessary job security and attendant benefits as public servants.”

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On the basis of the 2016 CSEC and CAPE examination, 629 students who achieved the requisite standard will shortly receive a cash grant of EC$500 each.

“So, too, would the students who passed the associate degree programme at the required level at the Community College,” Gonsalves said.

He further said that on the basis of the 2016 CAPE results, his government has announced 26 scholarships, exhibitions and bursaries for university-level study.

Of these, eight are national scholarships fully funded for five years of study, five are national exhibitions fully funded for three years’ study and three are bursaries valued EC$60,000 each for three-year university programmes.

The awards will cost more than EC$5 million, said Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Finance.

National colours and flags at the Independence Parade in Kingstown. (Photo: Duggie Nose/Facebook)
National colours and flags at the Independence Parade in Kingstown. (Photo: Duggie Nose/Facebook)

He further said that for the 2017-2018 academic year, the government will grant tuition scholarships to deserving applicants for university study and will continue to pay the economic cost for all eligible students at the University of the West Indies.

The state-owned Student Loan Company will continue to grant annually to eligible and deserving applicants, economically-disadvantaged student loans amounting to in excess of EC$4 million.

“All of this, combined with other university scholarships negotiated with friendly overseas governments and supporting institutions, continue to place St. Vincent and the Grenadines on track to have one university graduate per household, on average, by the year 2030. I say to the students give me even better results and I will find the money for you to go to university.”

Gonsalves said that his government will shortly announce the 100 or so successful applicants who have been accepted to the registered nursing and assistant nursing programmes, all of whom will continue to receive a free education, and a monthly stipend of EC$1,000.

He said SVG is the only CARICOM nations with such provision.

“I want the nurses to know, I want the nursing assistants to know that you are very special to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and you are very special to Ralph.”

Gonsalves said that all these and other “compelling initiatives for the youth, the elderly, the farmers, the working people, will continue to be honoured and implemented despite the economic challenges with which we are confronted.”

He further announced that the annual duty-free concession for Christmas barrels will commence on Nov. 14 and run until Dec. 31.

Last year, there were some 18,000 such barrels, he said,

Shortly, additional persons will be recruited for the Police Force, the Fire Service, and the Coast Guard.

The government will give special recognition to citizens at home and abroad who have made sterling contributions in the fields of sports, culture, education, health, the public service, business and community service.

In this vein, early next year, the government will announce the naming of various facilities “in honour of our distinguished citizens, particularly those who have gone to the great beyond.

“We must remember them as part of our exercise of nation building and the further ennoblement of our Caribbean civilisation,” Gonsalves said.

He further said that announcements will also be made for a few more sporting and cultural ambassadors.

Gonsalves also urged citizens to listen to his Budget Address later this year to hear what he has to say about the continuation of programmes and new initiatives.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines is celebrating 37 years of political independence from Britain.

4 replies on “PM announces prisoners’ release, permanent jobs at Independence ”

  1. As good as all this may sound, we have to look a little deeper: All these jobs are government jobs. How is the money created to pay the salaries? They are not creating products to bring money into the country. The salaries will be paid with more tax and Customs Duty increases on those of us that are working. Also: how can he have a college Graduate per household when he cut Education Funding. Where will these people work when so very many are out of work right now? Gonsalves has no clue on how to create REAL jobs. It is not done by raising taxes. Taxes destroy jobs. With this economic plan our products will get more expensive, people will not want to pay for them. Tourists will avoid us and we will continue to get poorer. Does that matter, as long as Papa and friends are able to retire in luxury as our Grandchildren pay our hundreds of years of debt.

  2. Lost Pet you have clearly written what I consider to be REAL CONCERNS about the PM’s dis-ingenuous proclamations. What are these new government workers going to contribute to economic progress in SVG? Where is the money coming from to pay graduates for subjects passed? Who will pay the Piper?

    I have not read the PM’s original message. Did he mention anything about “National Heroes”? I see he is talking about recognizing Vincies at home and abroad. Why not complete the National Heroes naming that has been hanging in limbo?

    How about the AIA, has the PM forgotten that it is not yet open?

    Sadly, the PM and his minions are bankrupt of ideas to manage the country and add value to the welfare of our people. It is such a disappointment.

    Until things are better, October 27th should be a NATIONAL DAY OF MOURNING for Vincentians and SVG.

    Vinci Vin

  3. Though I support the release of the young prisoners, provided they are given a parole officer and offered rehabilitation and training services – which would actually be giving them a second chance as opposed to abandoning them to the same life before they were imprisoned — I disagree with all the rest.

    1. We already have too many government workers given the size of our population. What is needed is better training, discipline, and supervision of existing workers rather than more people given a costly permanent position.

    2. All of the money given to graduates – grants and scholarships, many of them going to middle and upper class students (student loans are a different matter entirely if actually allocated solely by need but the experience of the middle income house-building programme suggests that this does not occur) — could be better spent on private-sector job creation.

    3. Providing a free education and $EC 1,000 per month stipend to nurses is surely among our most wasteful and maladaptive government programmes we have because it sees most of the graduates going overseas to work – we are training the nurses and other countries are getting the benefit of this training — which is why no other CARICOM has such provisions.

    4. The annual duty-free concession for Christmas barrels is another wasteful programme most CARICOM do not have which allows wealthy snowbirds like me to send down barrels from overseas whose contents are consumed while we holiday for a few months in paradise thereby robbing Vincentian businesses and the treasury of tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue every year. Moreover, thousands of these barrels are received by full-time vendors who sell their contents on the streets of Kingstown the rest of the year right in front of stores whose owners can hardly pay their rent or taxes or must lay off staff because of unfair competition.

    But none of this matters to our Prime Minister who views all these programmes through the narrow political lens of votes on election day.

  4. Spot on Lostpet you have it worked out o a ‘T’.

    There has been no creation of real jobs during the last 16 years. Real jobs have to come from local industry and there has been no local industry creation.

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