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Pensions for nursing assistants among PM’s 14 promises

Pensions for nursing assistants among PM’s 14 promises


Local nursing assistants have been promised pensions by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves.

The Prime Minister made the guarantee last Tuesday, October 27 at Victoria Park, while delivering his 2015 Independence address under the theme, ‘For love of country’.{{more}}

Stating that he had 14 announcements to make, the PM spoke about the pensions for nursing assistants as his eighth proclamation to the people.

“In my government’s 2016 budget, to be delivered in January 2016, we will accord all nursing assistants the status of pensionable public servants. They deserve it. They will thus be put on the same footing, in this regard, as registered nurses.”

He also made other announcements geared towards improving the lives of Vincentians.

His third announcement saw him promising, “the deserving persons who receive monthly public assistance payments will receive an increase of $25 per month from January 2016. This will cost an additional $1.5 million approximately, per year, in the aggregate.”

This payment will take to EC$250 monthly, the money received by persons over 65 years old.

He noted in his fourth promise that an Actuarial Review of the National Insurance Services (NIS) is currently underway and stressed, “I expect that this review will, among other things, recommend increases in minimum pensions and other benefits from early 2016.”

Students were not left out of the Independence goodies give-away and as a result, as the PM’s fifth promise, it was noted that Government has awarded a record number of 31 national scholarships, national exhibitions and bursaries (14 national scholarships, five exhibitions and 12 bursaries) arising from the 2015 CAPE/’A’ Level examinations.

“In 2016 these numbers would be further augmented for government-assisted university education through the award of 70 tuition scholarships and grants, at least 100 specially-designed loans to our university students under the Economically-Disadvantaged Student Loan Programme, and other assorted scholarships, grants, and payment of economic cost to dozens more of our university students,” said Gonsalves.

He revealed that over $30 million (inclusive of the student loans) will be spent directly by the Government next year on post-secondary college and tertiary university education.

“Currently, we have 2,500 students at our Community College and over 1,000 pursuing university education through the efforts of our government. We are on target to achieve one college or university graduate, on an average, per household by 2025,” Gonsalves boasted on Tuesday.

It was also revealed as the Prime Minister’s sixth vow, that, in another week or so, 745 students who graduated at the appropriate level at the CAPE and CXC Examinations will each receive $500 as a monetary reward for their performance, while the management of the SVG Community College has been asked to provide a list of students who successfully completed their Associate degree programmes in 2015 at the average level of a B+ grade and above.

“I intend to make the same $500 payment to each of these qualifying students at the Associate degree level.”

As his seventh announcement, Dr Gonsalves told the gathering that he has recently given approval for the SVG Community College to recruit 80 qualified persons, an increase from the original 65, “as the next batch of students to enter the Division of Nursing Education to pursue the requisite nursing qualification.”

He said that the Government will continue to pay these nursing students a monthly stipend of $1,000, while providing them a free professional education.

Also, as his eleventh undertaking, the Unity Labour Party (ULP) head said that between now and Christmas 2015, Government will distribute a further 200 or so building lots of land to deserving persons at preferential prices.

“This is an ongoing programme in our Housing Revolution. Since 2001, we have distributed over 4,500 such building lots.”

Twelfth, Gonsalves said that Government is committed to providing direct financial and other support to Vincy Heat in its football World Cup campaign.

Farmers and fisherfolk were not left out, as the thirteenth announcement revealed that, “for the third year running, in 2016, farmers and fisherfolk will have available to them a further $6 million in low-interest loans through the Farmers’ Support Company, financed by Petro Caribe.”

Addressing the thousands of people that had gathered at the Victoria Park, the PM said that in the next few weeks or months, “our people will exercise their democratic choice in free and fair elections as to who would govern us for the next five years. I expect that the campaign would be robust, and full of humour, laced with biting Vincentian picong, educational, and uplifting as befitting a mature people in quest of further ennoblement.”

He added that he expected that the campaign would be peaceful.

“I am sure that our people are not interested in malicious utterances, scurrilities, falsehoods, and vacuous posturing. The people are demanding substance and a clear exposition of comprehensive, compelling narratives for our country’s development. My government has already laid out its own perspective in its National Economic and Social Development Plan 2013 to 2025, which was launched in October 2013 and is available on the Government’s website. If any citizen has any queries about this plan, I invite them simply to: “ASK RALPH!”

He said that the Development Plan covers every single facet of public policy and is the benchmark against which all other developmental narratives would be assessed.

“As always, our government’s plans for the future are grounded in the human development of our people, of which education and training, health, housing, citizen security, poverty reduction, zero hunger, and social protection are central. Over the next five years, a number of capital projects, already in train, will be fully rolled out.”