The government will ask lawmakers to approve supplementary estimates to provide monies to respond to the impact of COVID-19.
“With all the new things on which we have to spend money and some stimulus, which we have to put in, and some costing for the food plan, it is likely, almost inevitable that we have to go to Parliament,” Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves told the media this week.
“I don’t know if I can get there for the 26th [of March] with this particular package, because we have to have some things legislatively and the like,” he said, referring to the next scheduled meeting of Parliament.
“I have to do a supplementary estimate. And I have to do a supplementary Appropriation Bill. I can do some things in the meanwhile but I’ll have to go there and get approval from Parliament,” he said.
Gonsalves said that while Parliament last year increased the annual Special Warrant limit from EC$25 million to EC$35 million, individual special warrants are not supposed to go above EC$5 million.
“But we may have, in some cases, to go above that. And I don’t mind a debate in the Parliament. In fact, I welcome it. And the measures, which we are taking to steady the ship further. I love it; love the debate. Put it and leh the people understand what’s happening. That’s how a democracy works,” Gonsalves said.
On Feb. 6, Parliament approved an EC$1.2 billion budget for this year, the largest ever tabled in Parliament.
In presenting the fiscal package on Feb. 3, Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves said the 2020 Budget is “an ambitious attempt to accelerate the economic transformation” of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The 2020 Budget contains no new taxes but shows “moderate” increases in some user fees across the public service and additional fees for new services offered by various ministries and departments.
The increases include the fees that private patients pay for several hospital, laboratory, and dental fees, the cost of obtaining a passport, and the fee visitors pay if they overstay their time in the country or if they want to extend it.