A bill to sanction payments from the Consolidated Fund upon certain services in excess of the Appropriation Act of 2021 relating to the year ending 31 December 2021 was passed in the parliament in St Vincent and the Grenadines yesterday.
The 2021 Supplementary Estimates for St. Vincent and the Grenadines was tabled in the name of the Parliament representative for East Saint George, Camillo Gonsalves, who is the Minister of Finance, Economic Planning, Sustainable Development and Information Technology.
The bill was ‘taken through all stages in this sitting’ in accordance with Standing order 48/2. The Minister in his presentation thanked everyone who has contributed in the trying times of the last month who contributed to the recovery effort, since the repeated eruptions of the La Soufrière volcano. He stated that $117.9 million dollars were needed to address the humanitarian La Soufrière volcano disaster.
“We are before this honourable house, almost one month exactly, after that first explosive eruption with a budget of one hundred and seventeen point nine million dollars to address the most immediate humanitarian cleanup demands that volcano eruption has placed upon us. And I want want to thank the staff of the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Economic Planning, and of course my Cabinet colleagues for the very, very, hard work they have done in the last month even while dealing with cleanups, and NEMO meetings, and the various exigencies of the eruption that we found time, over the last for weeks to put together this $117.9 million dollar-budget to address the challenges that we all face together.”
He went on to say that the preliminary incomplete estimates of the damage and the loss are ‘sobering estimates’ “Even without going to the full extent of the Red Zone and the Orange Zone, and up the mountains, we know that cleanup costs will exceed $38 million dollars.
We know that there is damage to over 5,000 buildings, exceeding 35 million dollars.
We know that at least, 175 million dollars of loss and damage has been inflicted on the agricultural sector, and some estimates are as high as US$150 million dollars.
We know that in the Red Zone, a hundred percent of vegetable crops have been destroyed, 65 percent of arrowroot crops, 90 percent of tree crops, and 80 percent of root crops have been destroyed.
We know that hundreds of livestock have been lost–pigs, goats, sheep, cattle. We know that thousands of chickens have been lost.
We know that there is over 15 million dollars in damage to our forests, and the evaluators, quite naturally, couldn’t get all the way up into the mountains to evaluate the full extent of the damage to our forestry,” he told the house adding,
“we know that there is damage to our public utility infrastructure–water, electricity generation and distribution capacity.
And all of this preliminary data, sobering as it is, excludes large swaths in the Red and Orange Zones that were inaccessible at the time of the assessment, and the assessments were made before the torrential rains that we experienced that sent flooding and lahars down the hillside and caused even more damage to the infrastructure and the lives and livelihoods of the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”
La Soufrière volcano
The government of St Vincent and the Grenadines, acting upon the advice of the UWI Seismic Research Center, lowered the La Soufrière Alert level to Orange on May 6, 2021. The Alert Level was raised to Red on April 8, 2021 when the seismologists observed an escalation in activity” at La Soufriere volcano prompting Prime Minister of St. Vincent, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves to issue an immediate evacuation order from the North of the Island, from the Red and Orange zones on Mainland St. Vincent
On April 9 the volcano had a major explosive eruption that blasted away its 1979 dome and the new effusive dome that had begun to grow in late December 2020.
Contributions were also heard from the Prime Minister as well as several members of the government side of the house. However, members of the opposition were absent. Including the Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Godwin Friday who was instructed to leave the chamber by Speaker of the House, Rochelle Forde, when Mr. Friday failed to accept her ruling on a matter raised during Questions in regard to a senator which erupted into a heated exchange between the Speaker and the Mr. Friday.
The bill passed the Committee Stage with amendments was read a third time and passed.
Debate on the Supplementary Appropriation Act 2021 will resume when the House reconvenes on Tuesday 29 June 2021, due to Prime Minister being out of state from May 20th for 3-4 weeks in relation to a domestic matter. The proceedings were broadcast live by NCB Radio St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Camillo Gonsalves – Vote ULP (2021). Available at: https://voteulp.com/camillo-gonsalves/ (Accessed: 12 May 2021).
NBC Radio St Vincent and the Grenadines – Live Coverage of the Meeting of the House of Assembly – Tuesday May 11th 2021 – Part 4 | Facebook (2021). Available at: https://www.facebook.com/nbcsvg/videos/132195598943544 (Accessed: 12 May 2021).
La Soufrière (volcano) – Wikipedia (2021). Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Soufri%C3%A8re_(volcano) (Accessed: 12 May 2021).