The government has asked the state-owned suppliers of water and electricity to consider a moratorium on disconnections — as they did last year — to help their customers struggling with the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have asked VINLEC and CWSA (Central Water and Sewerage Authority) to reinstitute a moratorium programme, including discounts too,” Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said on WE FM on Sunday.
“Last week, the people at CWSA responded. VINLEC should have responded to me by Friday but I haven’t seen that document. If Thornley is hearing me, he would know that I am awaiting it,” he said of the electricity provider and its chief executive.
“And if he has, in fact, sent it, he could always send a message to me saying he has sent it. But I haven’t seen it yet. But this week you are going to get some announcements on those.”
The prime minister said that because schools are closed, the government has to assist the vendors who trade outside schools.
“[Minister of Finance] Camillo [Gonsalves] has insisted, and quite rightly so, that we put back the vendors at the schools [on the list of persons to receive COVD-19 unemployment benefit].
“And there are a few hundred of them at the various schools, because they are not making any money. We may have to do something again for … the people who are running the preschools,” the prime minister said.
He noted that the government has decided to give to omnibus each operator, for two months, a monthly subsidy of EC$500 or EC$600, depending on the size of the vehicle.
The prime minister’s comments came as he said that the number of persons taking the COVID-19 vaccine in St. Vincent and the Grenadines was “picking up” but was not yet “as many as I would like to see because the sooner we all get vaccinated, or at least most of us, the better”.
Gonsalves said that the sooner people are vaccinated, the sooner “we can get back to normalcy.
“And as we see Britain and the United States, their programme is unfolding pretty OK and we see in some other European countries, and even Canada, which has been a little slow off the mark — I have been advised — that we may have people travelling again.
“There is a pent up demand, according to the people in the marketplace for tourism and we can get back to economic activity.
“We take our jabs, we get our jobs returning because at the moment things are very difficult. I am talking about on the economic front. It is very challenging.
“We had said in the Budget, and we are rolling out projects for people getting jobs and we are seeing in some of the public sector programmes that are happening and we are strengthening the social safety net.”