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The government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines will continue pay-outs aimed at relieving the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on various categories of citizens.

“We are, in fact, continuing the programme for the temporary unemployment benefit and the government’s programme in respect of the hospitality sector and also in respect of the sailors, the seafarers,” Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said on WE FM, On Sunday.

“From the time we launched those programmes for working people in April and started to make payments from April 10 right down to Dec. 26, we have paid out already, both the NIS (National Insurance Services) and the government, through the NIS, I am talking about government finance, $8.4 million to 4,309 recipients,” Gonsalves said, adding, “That is a lot of money for a lot of people.”

He said that the NIS programme has paid out EC$2.4 million and the central government’s was slightly above EC$6 million.

“It would mean, therefore, that in extending the benefit to the same category of persons, a similar number of persons for the period down to the end of March and, of course, the NIS will have to ensure that the details for each person are in order and follow the rules for a claimant,” the prime minister said.

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“It would mean that for the NIS they would have to put another $800,000 and for the government another $2 million or thereabout and we have to make provision for that in what is already a challenging set of estimates to prepare in the circumstances with all the volatility and uncertainties.”