(CMR) Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said if the country's economic downturn continues, the government will not be able to pay salaries and pensions in a month or two.
Gonsalves said while the government has been holding things together, the coronavirus pandemic has serious economic effects on the country.
“And I say to persons, I say this with all honesty, the way things are going, they may well be in one or two months, sometime, if things continue with the straitened economic circumstances, that the government may not have the $30 million every month to pay civil servants and to pay the NIS contributions to civil servants, those who are pensionable to pay the NIS contributions for current, and to pay salaries and wages,” Gonsalves said on NBC Radio on Wednesday.
Gonsalves urged citizens, especially public servants, to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
The government had hoped to vaccinate at least 50,000 people this month; however, only 11,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered, amounting to about 11% of the population.
The government recently announced a vaccination or test policy, which requires public sector workers to provide proof of vaccination or get tested up to once every two weeks.
However, public-sector unions have opposed this policy, stating that it offends the nation’s Constitution.
Gonsalves said the government's revenue collection dropped by $15 million in January but recovered in February.
However, the prime minister warned of the need for the country to reopen. He pointed out that vaccination would put the country in a better position to reopen.
Gonsalves said he hoped St Vincent would be on the UK's list of countries that persons are allowed to travel to when travel resumes in the UK this summer.
He noted that Virgin Atlantic is scheduled to begin flying to St. Vincent in June.
“If we are not on that green list there, the likelihood is that it will not come. This is a very serious matter about lives and livelihoods,” the prime minister said.