Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves is urging Vincentians to be circumspect with their spending, saying that some people have made “some outrageous requests” for help with funerals.
He made the point on NBC Radio, on Monday, as he said that because the government has offered to help citizens with certain challenges, even nationals living overseas have applied for help to buy tickets to return home.
“I mean, I can’t tell people how to spend their money, but sometimes people spending money on things which they don’t have, which you wonder. They will have to know, they will have to know,” the prime minister said.
“An area which I will comment on though, some people may get vex with me, I see a development now where people are looking, because the government has helped persons who are poor to get a basic decent funeral, there are some people thinking, if you help a little there, this is an open sesame for some outrageous requests.”
He said that some people want funerals costing “almost a one-bedroom wall house.
“And this this new phenomenon of people having to the stream the funeral… You have to always cut your cloth to fit the size. You don’t hear the opposition politicians talking about this thing,” Gonsalves said.
He said that not even the younger government MPs talk about the issue.
“But I believe that I have enough of a good relationship with the people and my track record is there that they will say, ‘You know, what? Ralph is talking there make sense.’”
The prime minister said that sometimes politicians might feel that speaking about certain things may cause them to lose votes.
“I’m not in that group because people know that I’m always there to help but I always ask for good sense and balance and reasonableness. It’s good old-fashioned advice,” the prime minister said.
He said that some people even have parties for 1-year old-children. “The party is for adults because the 1-year-old child will probably fall asleep.
“Now, if you have a lot of money to splurge on these things, so be it, but you know, you have to use your common sense. We have to be able to talk honestly with one another about these things.”
He said it appears that since the government began to give money, via debit cards, to people who were impacted by the eruption of La Soufriere, “our citizens who are overseas think we are awash with money to give them, too.
“I’m getting more requests than ever for persons who are overseas, people in the United States, people in Canada, people in other Caribbean countries, Vincentians have found themselves in difficulty in one way or the other,” Gonsalves said.
“Sometimes, it may be a health issue, they live and work in those countries, you know, reaching out for us to help. There are some people who make some bad choices. A man or a woman may leave St. Vincent unadvisedly and try and follow a partner, a possible partner, to go to another place and then get left high and dry. They want the government to pay their passage to come back home.
“I’m getting more of that because the way in which we have been very generous and strengthening the social safety net for our people, it creates, apparently, in some people’s minds, the view that a tonne load of money is available for all and sundry. But that’s not the case.”
Gonsalves said that the monies are “specially targeted resources as a consequence of COVID and the volcanic eruption and to help cushion the effect of the convulsions arising from the global political economy, with all the rise in prices and so forth, to ease the pain, to ease the vulnerability, to hold things together.
“Nut people have to make good and sensible choices as they’re going along in this particular period. Well, in all periods,” Gonsalves said.