By Demion McTair. Updated 2:57 a.m., Saturday May 2, 2020, Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4).
Kingstown, St. Vincent (ONE NEWS SVG) – The Covid-19 pandemic has already started to impact Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ economy in marked ways.
Over 1,000 persons have already applied for unemployment benefits as 123 businesses have either closed, are in the process of closing, or are scaling back significantly.
The impact has reached major private and government projects. Here are five (5) major projects affected by Covid-19, according to Finance Minister, Camillo Gonsalves who was speaking at a press conference on Wednesday (April 29):
1 Rain forest Seafoods Project at Calliaqua (Private)
Issue: Project halted because it requires supervising engineers out of China. They are currently unable to travel due to the Covid-19 pandemic. They are to erect the steel frame of the building.
2. Royal Mill Hotel Project and The View – formerly Grand View Hotel (a project by the same investors) (Private)
Issue: Projects are still ongoing, but at a reduced rate for physical distancing and cash flow reasons, they have reduced their team on site.
3. The Diamond Athletic Track (Government)
Issue: The supervising engineer for the next phase of that project is a German and he cannot currently travel to SVG. Another engineer is stuck in Costa Rica and the fiance minister said the government is trying to see what can be done to get him to SVG before the rainy season begins in earnest, because one the rains start, that project will have to stop because of precision required (which cannot be achieved in the rain).
4. Kuwaiti-funded road projects (Government)
Issue: Supervising engineers out of Kuwait need to get to SVG, but cannot currently travel due to Covid-19. Therefore, until they can get there, those projects will be stalled.
5. The New Port at Kingstown Project (Government)
Issue: The work to relocate the residents will continue, so that will be completed as scheduled but, the beginnings of the port work – realigning the shoreline, beginning some of the reclamation, that will not be done this year – Gonsalves said.
“For the bits to be received, all of those engineers and all of those bidding entities had to come on site, visit the site, put in estimates, that is going to delay all of that activity until early next year at best” – Gonsalves added.
He said delays of up to six months are anticipated for some projects.
There are some projects, however, which are ongoing and have not been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The coastal defense work at San Soci and Georgetown are two such projects.
The minister explained that with these projects, the money is in-hand and they are not particularly labour intensive.