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Payments continue for persons affected by coronavirus pandemic

Payments continue for persons  affected by coronavirus pandemic

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Several persons will soon receive cash payouts as the government continues to provide a social safety net for persons affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The National Insurances Services (NIS) will continue to pay unemployment benefits, while vendors, sailors and other workers dismissed, retrenched or receiving reduced incomes will be assisted by the government.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves announced the support measures on Wednesday during NBC Radio’s Morning Cup program.
Gonsalves said the NIS is expected to continue the EC$300 a month payment that was given to workers from April to December 2020.

“We gave $300 to workers who are laid off completely or substantially retrenched. I know $300 is not a whole heap of money, but at least it helps you while you are trying to do something else or if you are working half time or something like that; it keeps you at a particular level,” Gonsalves said.

He said the money given to seafarers will also be repeated and SVG is the only country in the region that is looking after their sailors in this manner.

Also set to receive money, are the 200 persons who got $200 in 2020. Gonsalves said these persons have been transitioned into the permanent system for public assistance in 2021, while he has increased public assistance (for those under 65 years) from $250 to $275 and those over 65 from $275 to $300.

Gonsalves also noted that minister of finance Camillo Gonsalves has announced that this new round of payments will see vendors who ply their trade outside schools receiving financial help.

“The fact that we have the schools closed this year, we have to give at least another payment to those vendors at the schools because the ones around town, even though some of them not getting as much as before, they picking up something and we gave them money last time, but those at the schools not getting any money at all because the schools are closed,” the Prime Minister said.

He said it is important that the government maintains and strengthens these safety nets so that the burden brought on by COVID-19 can be eased.

“Every day I go to work, I am on the issue of jabs that is to say the vaccines and the question of jobs and the social safety net and there are a lot of cases that come to us which we simply have to help with,” Gonsalves said.

These measures are being rolled out although the pandemic has put a dent in the government’s revenue stream.

Last year, thousands of persons in SVG benefitted from the COVID-19 Recovery and Stimulus package programmes implemented by the Government after a supplementary budget for the Stimulus and Recovery package was passed in the House of Assembly on April 7.

Some of the payments included a pre-payment of two months benefits to pensioners at the outset of the pandemic, farmers and fisherfolk, vendors, hand cart operators, creative and cultural professionals, entrepreneurs and small business owners and persons in the hospitalities and tourism sectors.

Some elderly, disabled and those experiencing increased financial vulnerability as a result of the pandemic received payments including omnibus, taxi and tour bus operators.