By Demion McTair. Updated 1:08 a.m., Thursday April 30, 2020, Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4).
Kingstown, St. Vincent (ONE NEWS SVG) – Vendors in St. Vincent and the Grenadines who have been financially affected by the Covid-19 pandemic are eligible for the Interim Assistance Benefit provided by the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Finance Minister, Camillo Gonsalves said at a press conference on Wednesday (April 29), that the Interim Assistance Benefit is available to two sets of vulnerable people: those in the informal sector as vendors, and those otherwise affected by Covid-19.
Vendors who are registered with the Kingstown Town Board will be eligible to receive $200 per-month for three months, in the first instance.
Other vulnerable persons affected by the Covid-19 pandemic will be eligible for $200 per-month for the rest of the year.
Vendors are to apply at the Kingstown Town Board starting from Monday, while other persons are to apply to the Ministry of National Mobilization and Social Development.
On Vendors registered at the town board, the minister said that it is his understanding that “there are about 600 such vendors operating in St. Vincent and the Grenadines”.
In terms of the procedure to apply for the assistance starting from Monday, he said “go in, there will be a form to fill out. They will establish that you are registered with town board. They will make the necessary evaluations and you are eligible for $200 a month for 3-months”.
For the other group of vulnerable persons, he said “you don’t have to be a senior citizen. What you have to establish is that you are vulnerable and that your vulnerability has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic”.
“You are eligible for a $200 (per-month) for the rest of the year and you will apply at the Ministry of National Mobilization. If you are vulnerable, if you have been affected, you should go in and explain your situation at the ministry and have them evaluate you and tell you whether or not you are eligible”.
“This is not something that you can say you’re disqualified because you are too young, or you are disqualified because you know, your friend has a job or somebody else in the house has a job or whatever, go and apply and the ministry of social welfare will process your claim for an interim assistance benefit”.
The finance minister said the program is meant to be an add-on to the social assistance benefit, called public assistance or “poor relief”, but “without those restrictions”.
Interim Assistance Benefit is one of several benefits available to diffident groups of Vincentians who have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Hospitality workers, minibus operators, preschool operators and workers, and persons who have lost their jobs are some of the other groups who qualify for different benefits, namely the NIS Unemployment Benefit and the Displacement Supplementary Income.