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Vincentians get $30m ‘thank you’ package

Vincentians get $30m ‘thank you’ package


Independence Parades are known for pomp, ceremony, and other attractions, not Christmas in October.

But for a wide cross section of the country, the season of giving has come early this year with the announcement by Government of an EC$30 million package that is designed to reach even school children.{{more}}

The highlight of Tuesday’s 30th Anniversary of Independence Parade at Victoria Park was Gonsalves’ announcement of a multi-million dollar package designed, he said, as a thank you gift to Vincentians.

Gonsalves identified the elderly, the dispossessed, farmers, various categories of public servants, sports personalities and cultural artistes, among others, as having made sterling contributions to the nation’s welfare.

“It is right and proper that we say thanks in a tangible way,” said Gonsalves.

He said EC$10 million will be made in direct payments, EC$10 million in land subsidies and EC$10 million to special works.

Disclosing how the package was and will be distributed, Gonsalves said 5,000 pensioners at the National Insurance Services (NIS) and others on the NIS non-contributory pensions received a one off additional payment of EC$200 each on Friday, October 23, 2009. These payments amounted to EC$1 million.

He added that 6,000 persons on Public Assistance from the Central Government will be paid a one off additional payment of EC$200 on November 2, 2009. This will cost the Treasury EC$1.2 million.

With regard to the farmers, Gonsalves noted that his administration has already imported 16,000 sacks of fertilizer which will be sold to them at half price per sack or EC$55. He estimates this will benefit over 2,000 farmers and cost the treasury EC$880,000.This comes on the heels of subsidies that were given two months ago on 13,000 sacks of fertilizer.

The prime minister used his address to announce that a special allocation of EC$10 million will go to The Roads, Buildings and General Services Authority (BRAGSA) for the repair of roads, buildings, and their beautification. He said it is anticipated this project will provide short term employment for over 5,000 skilled and unskilled workers.

The independence package is also expected to benefit just over 500 successful students who have met the required level in their CSEC, CAPE, and A’ Level examinations. The students were expected to receive EC$500 at the various education institutions during the week.

Regarding the rest of the student population, Gonsalves expressed that over 30,000 students in the primary, secondary, and post secondary institutions represent the future of the country and on November 9 they will each be given EC$200 as a gift. The prime minister said this will cost the state EC$6 million.

“They are our treasure. They are our jewels upon which our future is grounded and I am sure they and their parents will spend this gift wisely on their education upkeep,” said Gonsalves.

The package also extends to nurses, police officers, and individuals involved in sports and culture. Gonsalves said during the past week, he had set up an EC$1.5 million education fund where persons of the three groupings will be able to access funds for their studies.

The package will also extend to persons desirous of owning lands but who couldn’t afford to do so at market price. Gonsalves announced that 806 persons will be formally allocated lands for housing across the nation. These lands amount to 4.6 million square feet with a total market value in excess of EC$25 million.

“We are going to sell the land between 10 cents a square foot and EC$1.50 a square foot. The subsidy will be at least EC$15 million,” said Gonsalves, adding that these lands are located at Chateaubelair, Wallilabou, Dark View, Spring Village, Keartons, Barrouallie, Layou, Du Bois, Clare Valley, Lowman’s Hill, Great House, Green Hill, Diamond, Carapan, San Souci, Byera, Park Hill, South Rivers, Colonarie, Langley Park, Georgetown, Fancy, Bequia, and Canouan.

The prime minister said in the New Year he intends to purchase more lands to distribute to poor people so that they will be able to get lands for their houses.

“We must turn the dead capital into live capital. Dead property into live property,” said Gonsalves. (HN)