Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves. (iWN file photo)

While the number of persons receiving welfare pay-outs has more than doubled since his government came to office, this is not a sign that there is more poverty, says Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves.

Rather, this shows that he has a heart, Gonsalves told his annual town hall meeting with Vincentians in New York on Saturday.

Gonsalves was, at the time, speaking about poverty reduction as being among the “cross-cutting issues” that his Unity Labour Party has had to address since coming to office in March 2001.

“You know, it’s amazing, the opposition say Ralph has too many people on public assistance. First of all, remember this, you know, public assistance, was, when I arrived, $50 a month. It’s now $270. And when you had 2,000 on public assistance. Is 4,500 you have now, you know.

“They say that is a sign that there is more poverty.  No. What it is a sign of is that this man has a heart. And I have to make sure that you have something to help you keep body and soul together because you left me with 26 per cent of the population in indigence. What you want me to do, leave them to starve? Never!” said Gonsalves, who had repeatedly spoken about his government’s successes at poverty reduction.

“What is taking place before our very eyes is nothing less than a socio-economic transformation of the country. And I’ll tell you this. I couldn’t have gone to the poor and said to them, I am building airport and it is going take a while, I am doing education revolution and the results from that, you going see it down the road, it going take time to build up all the hotel rooms. I can’t tell them  bear bob, because yo’ ha’ to eat and yo’ ha’ to have roof over yo’ head.”

The prime minister said this is why his government has a poverty reduction programme that the World Bank commends.

He also noted that his government has a school feeding programme which Antigua and Barbuda had come to observe, because it is seen as a best practice.
“For young people, I had to make sure that I cushion some of the challenges by starting the YES programme and the SET programme while the medium-term measures take root and you will see the benefits of what we are doing over a period of time that will be sustainable, and that’s why we have a development plan, which we update. The current one is 2013 to 2025 and in the next five years, we will update it further,” Gonsalves said.

Minister of National Mobilisation, Frederick Stephenson told the media last week that there are 4,275 persons on Public Assistance in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

28 replies on “Public Assistance figures show ‘this man has a heart’ — Gonsalves”

  1. If it’s “not a sign that there is more poverty” in the country what on earth else could it be? With so much of the working population out of work, what on earth else could it be? Maduro in Venezuela would tell us the same thing, as did Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, there’s no poverty to see, just individuals on a diet!

    Beg and borrow, beg and borrow, borrow and beg the world over, rather than developmental economics!

    Truly the road to ruin, as is in Zimbabwe, once the bread basket of Africa. Ditto Venezuela, where pet dogs now grace the dinner table and five million inhabitants have voted with their feet across the country’s borders.

    The thing with dictators is that they sure have a way with words!

    1. The dynasty and family have no problems regarding food and being able to eat as much and whatever they want. They are billionaires and have so much money keeping it from clear view is a problem.

  2. I am so glad the children dont go to school on hungry bellies. He is doing the right thing by helping these poor people who steal unable to fend for themselves.

    1. Monica! In my district if you are a vulnerable attractive woman in need of Public Assistance you have to do something in return before you will get it…Enough said about what! I am sure this is not the case in most areas but I know for a fact it is in mine! The attractive women that refuse to do these favors have it rough, very rough. Some of the men get funds through theft from others. This is not all as rosy as you think!

      The ULP policy of heavy taxes for business and all, so the government can have more, has not worked

    2. But they do Monica, there are several times more that need assistance than are on assistance.

      Children still leave home hungry. that why there is school feeding program, there are thousands of them being fed. Its a way of hiding the true numbers. The kids are fed at school and the rest of the family go hungry.

  3. B Sc. Sociology with a minor in International Relations says:

    You have NO HEART! you use public assistance/funds to bribe people to get your votes! you are not worthy! thats not how it is suppose to be! people need jobs to feel independent and accomplished! not dependent on the Government! you are not worthy! This is economic backwardness!

    1. Well said! Bravo! That “leader” is self-serving. He does nothing unless it serves himself or his family (which also serves him). He will bring the country even deeper as time goes on. All of us have less and less over the years, while he gets more and more.

  4. B Sc. Sociology with a minor in International Relations says:

    nobody should have to face the perils of poverty! when people are poor they turn to immoral ways of getting money which is destructive to human beings. People need lucrative and decent jobs! we need to farm more food!!! you are not worthy! get out!

  5. Rawlston Pompey says:

    PUBLIC ASSISTANCE – WORTHWHILE SOCIAL PROGRAMME

    Though in a small way, this, most certainly shall help the indigent that are perennially challenged by either ‘…under-employment or lack of employment opportunities.’

    While the initiative shall not encourage ‘…parasitic dependence or downright laziness’ among the populace, this seems a very ‘…Worthwhile Social Programme.’

    The indigent population welcomes it.

    Sure the administration would have done a ‘…means test’ to ascertain or determine those that may qualify for the assistance.

    Those that oppose to this social programme, run the risk of being seen as ‘…heartless and inconsiderate.’

    One for all, and all for one.

    For the good of the nation, embrace and support it.

  6. 4,275 persons on Public Assistance in St. Vincent and the Grenadines will not justify a sign that there is more poverty in the past few years. To make such statement in the absence of comparable population increase statistics will be an inequitable conclusion. Let’s not overlook the youth population and increase in children which, would impact the socio-economic transformation of the country.
    No! ‘Leaving them to starve’ would surely not be favourable for election campaign but can become inauspicious if an in-depth comparison is made all-encompassing area’s youth, graduation, vs employment, vs public assistance. Nevertheless; with a slogan like ‘Labour Love’ the man our PM has to have a Heart.

  7. Of course people are paid more today than they were 18 years ago, what a stupid statement, meant to influence really stupid people.

    The failure to create jobs for all is a really serious failure.

    There are more people being paid public assistance money because there are more people that require it. The destruction of agriculture by the comrades policies, now the attempt to create a new agriculture policy based on marijuana. Recent statements show that a hundred new jobs have been created by the new weed trade. But there were numbers equal to this working in the illegal trade. Also there are thousands out of work since the banana farms were destroyed by government failure to handle the past and present disease problems.

    THE MAN WITHOUT A HEART that would be a more appropriate headline. What’s more it is a self adopted title, an attempt to make right wrong.

    I bet Stephenson got the most almighty rollocking for giving out these statistics and having caused Ralph to launch this PR exercise, an attempt to make wrong right.

    Freddy, you may well find yourself back in customs office unless you zip your mouth.

  8. My heart is broken. My skin is crawling. My blood is boiling. From reading this article. I swear I hope Vincentians don’t fall for this one. Was he booed out of the town hall meeting after saying he has a heart? Vote this […] out once and for all.

  9. Please anyone who was at the town hall meeting tell us what you all thought, we want to hear from you, our brothers and sisters.

    This man really is something else and he has tried to con you all, lets hope he hasn’t succeeded.

  10. The Cumrod wants to ensure that Vincy remains poor so that the people would continue to depend on him for their livelihood. That way he looks good.I visited St Vincent twice this year and there’s young kids at KFC in Arnos Vale begging for money and food at the entrance of this establishment.
    A few people in the ultimate leader’s circle are doing really well but by and large Vincentians are catching real hell..the cost of living is sky high and the projects that our government keep bragging about aren’t bringing about any meaningful change for the 40% unemployed Vincentians.
    I’m appealing to Vincentians in the diaspora:visit St Vincent for yourselves and get a firsthand look at the poverty in Vincy. Don’t let the number of used cars you see on the street fool you. Lots of people in vincy bought cars they could ill afford to maintain because of the crime situation..you won’t hear that on the radio..come to Vincy and mingle with the people if you want a true picture of what’s happening in our blessed land.

    1. B Sc. Sociology with a minor in International Relations says:

      Mr. Weib you are very accurate with your statements. I can confirm this, because I saw one today. I know for sure he does not work, and owns a car. I asked my self when I saw him, how is it this guy owns a car and he does not have a job? how does he maintain his car? Then it started to dawn on me, that illegal activities are definitely a chronic means of living….This is how the ends justify the means.

  11. Are you serious bud. This is what poverty looks like, people can’t eat building, create employment, stop the unnecessary travelling on tax payers back, stop borrowing, fixed the General Hospital. Your time has surely expired

  12. The statistics of how many get poor relief are totally meaningless. I know of people that are far poorer than those that receive poor relief. If the decisions were made, without any passions involved, as to who gets poor relief, there would certainly be more than 10,000 eligible. The truth is it has nothing to do with compassion and more to do with buying cheap votes. Apparently it is cheaper to dole out some poor relief than it is to provide an atmosphere of lower taxes and duties for the Privat Sector whereby they can create jobs.

  13. Upon reflectionROBERTSON, it is most certainly true that the real numbers who should be on POOR RELIEF should be much, much higher indeed. Much, much higher than the stated figure, when taking into account, the numbers of individuals who are unemployed in SVG.

    However, to pay unemployment benefits to that number of people, would be profoundly unsustainable beyond a month or two. Therefore, the numbers who do receive poor relief, helps supports the family regime’s vote bank and at the same time, keep the charade of a social-welfare idea alive with the gullible.

  14. It’s alleged that the Cumrod’s family own two restaurants at the Argyle airport..I was able to compare prices of some items on the menu at Argyle airport to the prices of the same items in Barbados..Barbados was actually cheaper.
    Question:Why are the prices at AIA restaurants so much more expensive and allegedly has connections to a leader who has compassion on poor people. Isn’t that hypocrisy?

    1. Chris, besides those, they have the college catering feeding the students at the medical college, and the Café on the dock at Blue Lagoon. All of which should become part of an eventual enquiry.

      1. Also to throw into the enquiry should be the interior design and furnishing and fitting out the first Villas at Harlequins Buccament Bay Resort. And much, much more, which I will let an enquiry have somewhere down the road, dates, times, photo’s and details.

  15. B Sc. Sociology with a minor in International Relations says:

    And you are very much aware of the chronic begging at KFC, I very much experience it all the time. I felt so sorry for one of the boys, that I used the opportunity to ask him why is he begging at 13years of age and why is he not in school. He said to me he does not know the whereabouts of his parents and I took him to child protection services and guess what….he was sent right back out on the street to beg….. Our leaders have their priorities wrong.

  16. Ask CK Greaves how many shoppers have to reject a large part of what they have put in their shopping basket because as they watch the cash register totals roll over they decide when they have enough money to pay. So grocery has to be continually re-shelved. It’s a major problem.

    Families with several school age children still have to send them to school in day shifts because they cannot afford to send them all to school on the same days.

    People are still acting as slaves to pay for their children to go to school. Cutting road verges and cleaning drains a few weeks of the year to be able only to afford to pay for school books and uniforms. The government pay them and they then repay the government so as their kids can go to school. Its a national, regional, and international disgrace that in this day and age children are made to pay for their education in this way.

  17. Then when you look at the size of him and consider the amount of food required to maintain his obesity, whilst children and families go hungry, it’s a sin.

  18. I was staying in the same hotel in Jamaica as the man. When he got into the elevator with about four more of us making five, three had to wait for the next elevator because there was no room for them. I looked at him and thought, if you were a normal size those other people could have got in also.

    The elevator had a sign inside MAX 8 PERSONS in side. Should have read MAX 4 PERSON AND ONE FAT F-CKER.

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