Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has denied that his government has not granted opposition supporters COVID-19 income support because of their politics.
He was speaking on NBC Radio last week in response to chair of the Opposition New Democratic Party, Daniel Cummings who said last week Tuesday that “substantial numbers” of persons’ applications have not been processed because they’re perceived to be NDP supporters.
Cummings’ comments came one day after the Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves, told parliament that some 80% or so of those who have applied for the EC$300 or EC$200 monthly income support have been successful.
In what has become a weekly appearance by the prime minister on NBC Radio, Gonsalves said on Wednesday that “a madness” has gripped the opposition.
“And the madness says is only ULP people getting benefits,” he said.
He asked whether the almost 500 minibus operators who turned up and registered for income support were questioned about their politics.
The prime minister asked the same of the 3,000 persons who received benefits via the National Insurance Services.
“You think Stuart Haynes and his team at the NIS asked them whether they are NDP or ULP?
“What about the nearly 1,800 vendors who get benefits, including 423 vendors from the schools — primary, secondary and the Community College, where somebody in authority from these schools, principal, deputy principal or whoever send in the names of those who are vendors and they double check them to see that they are, and all this done through the local government branch of the Ministry of Transport Works and Local Government and all of them get support?”
He spoke of the vendors who the government removed from the seawall along the Reclamation Site towards the west of Kingstown, each of whom received EC$4,500.
“Anybody asked them whether they are NDP or ULP?” he said and went on to mention the 600 persons who received EC$200 each from the Ministry of Social Development.
‘I don’t even know the persons from North Central [Windward] who got on the list, because there are people who deal with those things,” he said, mentioning the constituency he represents in parliament.
Gonsalves further said that 106 pushcart operators had benefitted.
“Anybody asked them whether they are NDP or ULP? They must stop this nonsense,” he said.
The prime minister said that the opposition was making a similar claim in relation to the grants under the Promoting Youth Micro Enterprises (PRYME) Programme.
“When you tell me that I manage a policy of political discrimination, what you are telling me is that I am offending section 13 of the Constitution of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which I am sworn to uphold.”
That section of the Constitution protects against discrimination on the basis of sex, race, place of origin, political opinions, colour or creed, etc.