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Ralph Gonsalves 2

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves. (File photo by Lance Neverson/Facebook)

If the prevailing economic situation continues, the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines may, in a month or two, be unable to pay salaries, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said on Wednesday.

“And I say to persons, I say this with all honesty, the way things are going, they may well be in one or two months, sometime, if things continue with the straitened economic circumstances, that the government may not have the $30 million every month to pay civil servants and to pay the NIS contributions to civil servants, those who are pensionable to pay the NIS contributions for current, and to pay salaries and wages,” Gonsalves said on NBC Radio on Wednesday.

He was, again, appealing to public sector workers and the nation at large to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

“You know, I just don’t understand this thing that for somebody to take a test on you, a simple test … a rapid test [to determine] whether you have COVID-19 or not, that that is an unacceptable and unreasonable invasion of your individual rights and freedoms. It doesn’t make any sense in fact or in law,” the prime minister said.

So far, the government has administered 11,000 doses of the vaccine, amounting to about 11% of the population, even as it had hoped that about 50,000 people would have gotten the jab by this month, vaccine availability permitting.

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Last week, the government announced a vaccinate or test policy, which requires that public sector workers provide proof of vaccination, or subject themselves to being tested up to once every two weeks.

But the government is facing opposition from public sector unions, which say that the policy offends the nation’s Constitution, an argument that the prime minister, a lawyer, rebutted on Wednesday.

Gonsalves said that his government has held things together economically “through all kinds of difficulties”.

“But I’m telling you, there is a real pressure on. We saw in the first month in January … revenue collections dropped by $15 million. We recouped in February. Things are even-steven between February this year and February last year. But we recouped because there were a couple of big alien landholding license transactions in Mustique, where we collect for each of those big transactions about 17%, roughly 17% of the value, and they were very big ones; rich people selling to rich people.

“And there are a couple more in the pipeline. In fact, when I leave here, I have to, I have to call the people to expedite because it means money. I’m talking about the public servants … to get these things quickly.”

Gonsalves said that the British government has announced that come June, it will implement a traffic light system for travel by British nationals.

He said that green indicates the countries to which British nationals could travel and red, the destinations to which they cannot travel.

Gonsalves said he did not know the details of the destination that would be categorised as amber.

“But, interestingly, one of the critical considerations is the extent of the vaccination in the country,” he said.

He noted that Virgin Atlantic is scheduled to begin flying to St. Vincent in June.

“If we are not on that green list there, the likelihood is that it will not come. This is a very serious matter about lives and livelihoods,” the prime minister said.

He further said that Trinity School of Medicine, a local medical school, has indicated that it wants its students to return to St. Vincent in May.

“… because we have to be opening up,” Gonsalves said, adding that, so far, his government has tried to cushion the effect of the harsh economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m talking about the government, but it’s rough; rough on a lot of people. Civil servants and teachers and police, everybody gets their salary, you know. And we have sought to deal with this thing at one time by putting the Public Service on shift, and we closed schools.

“Of course teachers … —  many, many of them, the majority of them have been doing good work with the students online. But some, of course, have been dilatory. You know, the performance has been uneven. And poor people’s children, everybody’s children need to get back [to the classroom],” he said.

Students in SVG are slated to return to the physical classroom next Monday, for the first time this year.

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10 replies on “Gov’t may soon be unable to pay salaries, pension, NIS — PM”

  1. Has all members of government take this vaccine as yt?…if nt why is it that the nation of svg is being targeted to take which ever vaccine…when is vincentian going to speak out about all this,so after trying u by will now they are willing to do it by force…So if u working for or with d government n u ain’t take it…what it’s a no salary for all those who don’t smh…Has there ever been a time when this government ever talk about people not having salary for a month or two…a birdy told me that (Bill Gts) was here in December (mustique)I wonder what he have to say so….maybe how come we have so low in covid cases in the Caribbean….mmmm

  2. Avatar Of Award-Winning BusinessmanAward-winning businessman says:

    Maybe the Prime Minister should not have been doubling and then tripling the size of government all these years. Maybe he should have listened to Eustace all those years, because now it has come back to haunt him. Put together with all his very many other financial mistakes, indicates it a problem of his own making. But he blames the people for not getting vaccinated! And will now punish public servants pensions, making the reason be that not enough got vaccinated…Right!

    So, will he stop paying the workers but continue with all his BIG SPENDING projects such as the new parliament?
    Now he is crying and saying it is all because people will not get the experimental vaccine. I will bet you anything that all his reasoning does not pass the smell test.
    Put the blame on the people instead of his failed economics!

  3. Last year IMF report said SVG needs to contain the wages bill. The PM responds: make temporary workers permanent, appoint persons in positions that should be absolete, continue to plug out millions monthly in allowances and spent millions on a Port modernization project. We can repair a vital piece of port equipment but we going to build a new one. Why not repair the one we have which will be cheaper. The new one will need repair and maintenance too; so every time something needs repairing we build or buy a new one? No wonder the country brokers and has been brokes for year. What you all think the 500million local debt is for

  4. Avatar Of Nathan 'Jolly' GreenNathan 'Jolly' Green says:

    If all that Petro Caribe money was not wasted, and millions paid to the Cubans unnecessarily paying millions for their wages after the Venezuelans reneged on the undertaking to pay Cuban wages. We would be in a better place. Instead of the airport costing us nothing it has bankrupted SVG for the next hundred years.

    Then there is the problem of transparency in all those dealings, no proper oversite, no proper auditing. What can I say except the best was not good enough.

  5. Although the PM did not close the economy as Dr Friday wanted, his long-term economics for SVG are a total disaster. As any person that understands economics knows, this man has done almost everything wrong over the past 20 years. Now he has the audacity to blame the very terrible economic environment that he created on “people that do not want to get vaccinated” with the experimental vaccine!
    I think he should maybe tell us how many in this country have died right after taking the vaccine. I know of some things but to mention it in SVG will get the government to come down hard on you, so I will leave it at that!
    We are encouraged to exaggerate covid deaths (maybe even falsify them) but punished if you mention vaccine deaths and permanent problems from them!

  6. It looks to me like a veiled threat to try and get people vaccinated and tested.. If you are running out of money surely it’s down to lack of fiscal planning – Listen to the public sector unions, which say that the policy offends the nation’s Constitution and civil liberties.

  7. It’s obvious now , that the Governments of the Caribbean ,are under pressure as regards their ailing revenue source,which is highly depended on tourism ; and to get the tourism sector active again ; will go to the extreme ,to even enact legislation to oblidge citizens to take a vaccine ,which is still in the experimental stage .

  8. You sound just like Roosevelt Skerrit in Dominica. That’s what happens when you all stay in power too long;little to no development and dictatorship type speeches. People cannot speak at will fir fear they grt victimized. St Vincent and Dominica are 2 of the poorer and least developed OECS Islands, and what do they have in common? Prime Ministers who overstay their welcome by brainwashing ppl into poverty with handouts. Compared to those in the OECS which change Govenments every term or 2; St Lucia, Antigua, St.Kitts, Grenada etc, those who keep PM too long are now poorly developed cuz yall feel there is no need to do exceptional things in the countries.

  9. Avatar Of Take WarningTake warning says:

    We want accountability for our money that are being spent, this is an expectation of any government that spend tax payers money.. Where is the accountability? Are you bigger than the laws of this land? Or is it your plantation? your day must come.

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