By Demion McTair. Updated 3:41 a.m., Tuesday, June 23, 2020, Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4).
Kingstown, St. Vincent (ONE NEWS SVG) – Nearly 400 businesses in St. Vincent and the Grenadines have closed partially or completely due to the economic fallout brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves said Monday (June 22), that within the formal sector “data from the National Insurance Services (NIS), indicate that 395 businesses have partially or completely shut down since the 1st of March 2020”.
Gonsalves was making ministerial statements in the parliament about the economic position of the country amid the pandemic.
He said the 395 businesses represent over 16 percent of the total active employers registered at the NIS.
Over 3,000 claims have been filed at the NIS for unemployment benefits and displacement supplementary income, Gonsalves said.
This increase in claims suggests that an additional 6 percent of the labour force is now unemployed, Gonsalves added.
The finance minister said that “considering the impact of the pandemic on the informal sector, we can safely assume that the unemployment rate has increased by more than 10 percentage points over the last three (3) months”.
Meanwhile, government revenue for the month of May fell by nearly 20 percent.
Finance Minister, Camillo Gonsalves said there has been a more than 18 percent reduction in government revenue for May, 2020.
He said Value Added Tax (VAT) revenue, fell by 49 percent when compared to same period last year. Other relatively small but significant sources of revenue also fell, he said.
He said “we are experiencing the early swells and choppiness” of the pandemic, economically but “we are weathering the storm”.
The Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines passed its Supplementary Budget on April 7, 2020 to fund its COVID-19 Stimulus and Recovery package.