As well as the many deaths the pandemic COVID-19 has caused, declines have been experienced in economies across the globe.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) is not exempt from this, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning, Sustainable Development, and Information Technology, Hon. Camillo Gonsalves declared while speaking at the PRYME Website Launch and second Awards Ceremony on Tuesday (June 16).
“It is worse than the global recession that we talked about in 2008. It is the worst recession that any living Vincentian would have experienced in SVG,” Gonsalves said.
“We’re in a bad time globally because of Covid and we are not exempt here in SVG.”
The Finance Minister informed that two hundred & sixty-one (261) businesses that make payments to the National Insurance Services (NIS), have shutdown operations either partially or completely.
The NIS on April 3, 2020, announced its unemployment benefit plan to provide temporary assistance to employees whose jobs may have been affected by COVID-19.
Similarly, the government rolled out its COVID-19 Stimulus and Recovery package, providing assistance to persons who would have encountered a decline in income. Beneficiaries included bus operators, vendors and fisherfolk.
Gonsalves shared that over 2,200 persons have so far benefited from these programmes.
He stressed that SVG is facing a rough time, noting that the government’s revenue saw a decline for the month of May.
“It’s a rough time. The ECCB (Eastern Caribbean Central Bank) tells us that the economies in the Eastern Caribbean, in the OECS will shrink by 20% this year. Never before in our history have our economies contracted by that much in one year.”
“The government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines saw our revenue drop by 18-20% last month.”
“…When we lose 20% of our money, that’s big problem but compared to other countries in the OECS, we’re doing better than those because their revenue has dropped by 50%.”
“…Economically, Covid is like a hurricane hitting every one of our islands at the same time. It is a economic calamity,” the Finance Minister declared.