Displaying a large bundle of documents containing requests for financial assistance, Labour Minister and Ninth District Representative Vincent Wheatley has shown that the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic is still badly affecting the BVI.
He said the documents amount to more than one million worth of requests for support.
And according to Wheatley, ‘established persons’ in the community are among those seeking assistance.
“They not trying to buy cellphones or jewellery. They’re trying to buy food, they’re trying to pay rent, they’re trying to pay bills. I see it every single day. The requests come in every single day — over a million dollars in request right here now,” Wheatley said while interviewing with JTV News recently.
Vaccinations will save the economy
And when asked whether the government could perhaps offer concessions to assist, Wheatley said the money is just not available.
“The government, I don’t think, right now, is in a position financially to do that. That’s why the vaccine is a very good solution because it lets you open the borders to get some money back in the country. We have to get money. The government isn’t making that kind of money to really carry the country like that for much longer,” added Wheatley whose ministry recently funded the $40 million economic stimuli for residents when the pandemic hit.
The problem, however, is and continues to be widespread vaccination hesitancy locally.
According to the minister, this only serves to prolong the economic challenges.
“Until we get better vaccinated to open or borders wider, we’re gonna have some serious financial struggles for some time to come,” he stated. “Based on the vaccination rate, it (the challenges) could be there for another year, another two years. It depends on the rate. If we could increase our rate by next week to 70 percent, it could change it around in a matter of weeks.”
Just over 18,400 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered locally, to date.
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