110 persons who are employed as temporary clerks some for a number of years with the public service will all be made permanent as of January 1st, 2017, thus providing them with the requisite job security and benefits as public servants.
This, according to Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, speaking at the 37th Independence day parade at the Victoria Park on the 27th October 2016.
Gonsalves also announced that on the basis of the CSEC and CAPE examinations, some 629 students who achieved the requisite standard will shortly receive a cash grant of $500.00 each. Those who passed the Associate degree program at the required level will also benefit from the 500.00 cash grant.
The Prime Minister also announced that 16 scholarships and bursaries will also be made available for university level studies based on the CAPE and CSEC results. Gonsalves explained that of these, 8 are national scholarships fully funded for 5 years of study, 5 are national exhibitions fully funded for 3 years of study, and 3 are bursaries funded at $60,000 dollars for 3-year university programs.
Prime Minister Gonsalves noted that these awards cost in excess of 5 million dollars in the aggregate. Additionally, for the 2017/2018 academic year, the government will grant tuition scholarships to deserving applicants for university study.
The government, he said, will continue to finance the economic cost for all eligible students at the UWI, while the state-owned Student Loan Company will continue to grant annually, economically disadvantaged student loans amounting to in excess of 4 million dollars.
Gonsalves said that all of this combined with other university scholarships negotiated with friendly governments, continue to place SVG on track to have one university graduate per household by 2030.
The Prime Minister stated that the relevant authorities will soon announce the more than 100 successful applicants in the Registered Nursing program. These students he said will continue to receive not only a free education but also a monthly stipend of 1000 dollars.
Gonsalves said he has been advised that St Vincent is the only country in CARICOM which offers such a generous provision.
All these Gonsalves said and other compelling initiatives for the youth, the elderly and farmers, will continue to be implemented despite the economic challenges.
In another week or two after the review, which is currently ongoing by competent authorities is completed, Gonsalves said he intends to tell the Governor General to order the release of some young men and women who are serving terms of imprisonment for relatively minor offenses. The Prime Minster said he considers in all the circumstances that these young persons ought to be given a second chance since this is “The Internationally Proclaimed Year of Mercy.”
The Prime Minister also announced that the annual duty-free concession for Christmas barrels will commence on Monday, November 14th and run until December 31st, 2016. Gonsalves said last year there were some 18,000 such barrels.
Gonsalves said that additional personnel will be recruited for the Police force, Fire Department and the Coast Guard. He said that in recognition of citizens at home and aboard who have made sterling contributions in public service, they too will be given very special recognition.
PM Gonsalves said that early in the New Year the Government will announce the naming of various facilities in honor of distinguished citizens particularly those who have gone to the great beyond.
An announcement will also be made for a number of sporting and cultural ambassadors in the New Year.
The Prime Minister also noted that he has instructed the Director General of Finance and Planning to transfer an initial 50,000 US dollars to assist the Haitian government in their relief efforts.
By Ernesto Cooke