Updated 6:47 p.m., Sunday May 03, 2020, Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4).
The views expressed are solely those of the writer and not of One News SVG.
Opinion – The position of the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines on who should pay for the quarantine of Vincentian sailors once they return home has been a controversial one.
Though most people seem to agree with the quarantine for public health reasons, they cannot seem to agree on the position that Cruise lines pay EC$150 per day, for at least 14-days for each sailor in quarantine.
There are those who agree with the government, saying that tax-payers money should not be used to fund the cost of the quarantine of the returning sailors.
Others have expressed the view that it is our responsibility, as a country to fund the quarantine which could cost millions of dollars.
There are also those who believe that the sailors should fund their own quarantine.
Already hit financially from the fallout brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, Caribbean governments are seeking to shuffle monies around in their economies to help the most vulnerable.
In St. Vincent and the Grenadines, more than 1,000 people have been unemployed and have sought unemployment benefits and 123 businesses have already closed, are closing, or are scaling back significantly.
The government has had to cushion the effect of these losses by implementing programs to assist such persons.
To find additional monies, in the millions, to pay for a quarantine for sailors (which must happen for public health reasons) might be an arm stretcher that can fracture the government’s arm.
It may well be this realization that Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has taken a position that the employers of Vincentian sailors must help meet part of the duty to safe keep the health of employees* who are crew members of the ships.
Dr. Gonsalves may well have come to this conclusion, knowing the economic impact not just to the government to fund this quarantine, but also to the sailors themselves.
For a 14-day quarantine, it would cost at least EC $2,100 for each individual sailor.
By any measure, this is a significant amount of money.
The prime minister probably entered the feelings of these sailors and tried to negotiate a way out for them.
Bear in mind, that other groups of nationals returning, including students have to fund their own quarantines.
The government should not feel punished to house sailors for public health reasons by having to bear their financial cost. The sailors should not feel punished to have to bear a cost that they did not call upon themselves. The cruise lines should not feel punished to bear a cost for a situation that they did not cause, and neither should the taxpayers of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Our sailors are valuable and contribute a lot when it comes to remittances.
The situation remains a complicated one and perhaps, a way out will be to have all parties involved contribute something.