Minister of National Mobilisation, Frederick Stephenson speaking at the campaign event on Sept. 16. (Photo: Lance Neverson/Facebook)

The Unity Labour Party government will increase the amount of money its pays out in Public Assistance to social welfare recipients monthly, commonly called “Poor Relief”.

“Once the Unity Labour Party government is returned to office for another five years, the public assistance benefit to our poor and indigent in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, those figures would be increased,” Minister of National Mobilisation, Frederick Stephenson told the ULP’s virtual public meeting on Wednesday.

“A few days ago, I heard on the NDP platform that they want to take St. Vincent back to the golden days. The golden days would mean that taking public assistance back to $60 — under NDP (New Democratic Party),” he said.

Stephenson said there are 4,300 persons on the public assistance programme and every month, this government spends $2.315 million to meet the needs of the poor and vulnerable in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“In 2001, the public assistance paid under the NDP was $60 a month for persons. This Unity Labour Party government since being elected in office, over a period of 19 years, have increased the public assistance from $100. And now it stands at $250 for persons under 65 and over,” he said.

He said that when the ULP came to office in March 2001, the poverty headcount index was 37.5% in 1995, and 1996 and indigence level for that same period was 25.7%.

The 2007-2008 poverty assessment report, compiled by the same consultants who did the assessment 10 years earlier, showed that the poverty headcount was reduced to 30.2% and indigents to 2.9%.

“How did the ULP government achieve these reductions? We set about targeted programmes for expansion in the economy, for the export of goods and services,” Stephenson said.

“We created an environment where persons in the country can use their talents and their skills; we strengthen the social safety net programmes within the Ministry of National mobilisation. We improved in ICT, in housing, in education, in adult education, literacy and training among several other initiatives,” he said.

And this year, the government has spent over EC$850,000 in uniform assistance and back to school assistance, the minister said.

Stephenson further noted that the ULP introduced the Youth Empowerment Service (YES Programme) in 2001.

Since then, every year, over 500 persons enrol in the programme and receive a stipends of between EC$500 and EC$850 a month, for one year.

“YES Programme has seen young persons moving into the public and private sector, to nursing, to teaching, and to other areas in the government service…”

This programme is funded by Taiwan, and Stephenson noted that the NDP has said that it will cut ties with Taiwan in favour of China. 

“Comrades and friends what would happen to our young people if in St. Vincent and Grenadines we make a mistake to vote for the NDP? What would become of the YES Programme? That would fall by the wayside. I’m saying to our young people, listen, and be warned,” Stephenson said. 

He further noted the Home Health for the Elderly, saying it is another of the important flagship programmes of the ULP government.

The minister further pointed out that the government has built improved temporary accommodation at the Louis Punnett Home at the former Nurses Hostel at Stony Ground.

He mentioned also the ‘golden years’ centres at Black Point and Pembrok

“You see, this is a caring government. And we have to know it is stated that one of the hallmarks of a good government is how it takes care of the children, persons with disabilities, the young people and the elderly,” Stephenson said.

“There are several other programmes within the ministry that concern and touch on the lives of persons in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We have the single parents programme, the teen mothers programme, an ex-prisoners programme, a youth in agriculture programme, the schools’ cooperative programme of producers and consumer cooperatives…

“The Ministry of National Mobilisation also provides assistance for funeral and medical expenses. We provide assistance for school fees and exam fees for the poorer children in our schools.”

He said there are programmes for transport subsidies, disaster relief, and assistance to fire victims.

15 replies on “ULP promises to increase ‘Poor Relief’ in 5th term”

    1. Nathan 'Jolly' Green says:

      Big Youth this story is about making promises to the poor to get their vote, they are trying every trick in the book. All the schemes listed by Freddy are what all normal countries do, SVG just does it years after everyone else and not as well.

  1. Urlan Alexander says:

    For the record, Mr Poor Relief Minister public assistance in 2001 when government changed was $110. I know this for a fact because my mother got that amount. I went to collect it in most instances. Check your record again. As a minister of government you must speak to truth bro.

  2. Nathan 'Jolly' Green says:

    As a devout Christian my dear Freddy you should be ashamed of yourself for making untrue and misleading statements. It is well known that the ULP has no such plans that you describe in this article.

    The real failure of the ULP is that they have failed to create jobs for the Vincentian people so as they can earn there money like people in other countries. The ULP system is based on what is happening in Venezuela, which has no collapsed under the weight of Marxist stupidity. Freddy you are among the last people I would have believed would stoop so low as to present all these fairy stories to us.

    Currently there are 60% of our people out of work.

    OCHA is the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. They are known for truthfulness in whatever statements they make and whatever reports they make about countries. Unlike the numerous ULP government reports which are full of blatant lies and untruths about the actual situation in SVG. Most of the situation reports by the ULP SVG Government are little more than garbage.

    In a July 2020 OCHA Report, under the heading SOCIO-ECONOMIC VULNERABILITY

    They say

    “Poverty, inequality and unemployment , which reached 25.1 per cent in 2015, remain significant barriers to economic and social growth . This disproportionately affects the country’s rural population , female headed households and youth . Moreover , banana farmers ’ livelihoods have been negatively impacted by the industry’s progressive decline due to the loss of preferential access to markets , recurrent natural disasters and disease. As of the latest Country Poverty Assessment , 48.2 per cent of the population is considered to be vulnerable.”

    That is just about half of all the people in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are classified as in the poverty, inequality and unemployment class. The OCHA Country Poverty Assessment is 48.2% of the population.

    According to another UN report by another UN organization. Human Development Report 2019. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is below the average when it comes to Human Development. Below the average for countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. From Latin America and the Caribbean, countries which are close to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines we are below the average.

    So for all the claims of wonder you make Freddy half the country is vulnerable to poverty, and we are below average of just about every other country in the Caribbean for human development.

    In 2018 families in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines received remittances from family members working and living abroad of 45.12 million U.S. dollars. If that did not happen most of the people in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines would have starved to death.

    Do you honestly think that people can survive on the tiny monthly handout that the ULP government make, it needs doubling. Of course what you pay now is more than was paid under the NDP, that was when people were earning less and food cost about a quarter of what it costs today. You cannot equate today with yesterday.

    You have failed to keep pace with inflation with wages and salaries. You have failed to pay the poor what they deserve. You have failed to provide or create jobs.

    The whole being of the ULP is based on failure, scrounging from other countries and hand outs from agencies like the UN, EU and World Bank.

    Give it up Freddy, because after the next election you will have to go back to work, if you can find a job.

    1. Foreign observer says:

      You make all these assertion but provide NO PROOF! Anyone can create figures in thier head and list them as fact.

  3. Government should provide the environment through educational and economic policies to foster the creation of jobs. Persons who are capable of working should work.
    Those who are unable to work should be taken care of at a level that maintains human dignity. Inflation affects the indigent as well, so increase of payment is expected.
    We should seek not to foster a system that rewards laziness and selfishness, while punishing those who are working through burdensome taxes with reduced benefit to those who are working and creating employment for others.
    Those who refuse to pay NIS should not receive same benefits upon reaching the age where they cannot work, as those who were unable to contribute. The person who makes choices that are detrimental to themselves must feel the consequences but not left to die as animals. We have a responsibilty to each citizen / resident of SVG.

  4. Where is the work for the people. Everyone in this government has to be crazy. They do not want the people of the country to have their own money. No one want to be born in poverty and die in poverty but this is what this government want and then they living high and eating all the good grapes.

  5. Yes Big Youth, they are jokers. You would think the ULP would instead enact legislation that encourages investors, so that we can have more job creation. Instead they do things that increase poverty such as constantly raising taxes. Even the Pryme program is not going to make much of an impact. It shows favoritism instead of creating a level playing filed where the laws are applied equally to all and the BEST can show thier stuff, instead of just the priveledged.

  6. Is this desperation? Appears so . And what about the other pensioners when will they get an increase? . We want to work and be independent, tired of hand outs, I am not disable, I can work

  7. Anthony Stewart, PhD says:

    The statistics quoted need to be current. Our decisions should not be made based on outdated data. The emphasis should be on removing people from public assistance by job creation.Every student should learn a life sustaining skill.so that poverty and dependence are not perpetuated

  8. If you have not already listened to that former Governor, Tathagata Roy’s Indian experience, link given above, this with regard to similar leftish administration as the ULP here, then please do so.

    You will no doubt learn why such administrations as they, creates the culture of dependency in the government which they head up! (Remember Keep them poor) is the moto for political survival!

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