Address of Island Governor Jonathan Johnson on the status of the Covid-19 infections.
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What is the Central Government doing to assist Saba?
Commissioner with responsibilities for Social Affairs Rolando Wilson on Friday provided an update on the assistance that Saba has been receiving from the Dutch Government in connection with the coronavirus pandemic and the actions that have been taken on the island.
Wilson said that he has been in contact with the Social Affairs and Labour (SZW) unit of the National Government Department in the Caribbean Netherlands RCN with regards to the assistance that the Dutch Government is providing.
The Dutch Government has established two different arrangements for compensation: the SZW emergency package and the arrangement of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate EZK. Under the emergency package of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor, financial support, wage subsidy, is provided to entrepreneurs, dismissed employees and self-employed persons.
The EZK arrangement involves a one-time payment of US $4,400 and now also the US $ 2,200 for entrepreneurs who have lost US $ 4,400 or US $ 2,200 in both revenue and fixed expenses during a period of three months. This arrangement ends on June 12, 2020. The situation will be evaluated after June 12 and will likely be extended as the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic is expected to last much longer.
As for Saba, a total of 226 applications for the SZW emergency package were received, of which some 200 have been approved and 12 denied, while 14 are still pending. The 12 applications that have been denied involved self-employed persons who also have other income besides their business that exceeds US $907. A total of 40 companies applied for the EZK arrangement of which 11 have been denied based on valid reasons.
Commissioner Wilson said that the Public Entity Saba assisted 103 families during the lockdown period and also made several of its civil servants available to assist the supermarkets with the deliveries of groceries. In addition, the Saba Lions Club handed out some 50 packages for the children.
“As Commissioner responsible for Social Affairs I would like to thank our Department of Community Development for the work that they carried out during the lockdown period. They went out there delivering food baskets to the needy persons and they provided assistance for families with children that needed internet services,” he stated, also thanking Satel for assisting during this time.
“As government we continue to provide and assist where needed. We are also very thankful to the ministries in the Netherlands for their support and for the different packages they provided. The cooperation and assistance from the National Government went very fast and this goes to show that being a part of the Netherlands has worked well for us. Together with St. Eustatius and Bonaire we were able to achieve a lot for the communities of our islands.” He further thanked the Saba Health Care Foundation and staff, police, the Red Cross, the supermarkets and the pharmacy.
“I am extremely happy to know that all govermment departments took their tasks very seriously and rendered excellent work for our island and its people. We will continue to play our part, bearing in mind that we are still not out of this COVID-19 pandemic. We still have to be cautious in all that we do. I urge our community to continue observing the physical distancing and hand sanitizing protocol.”
Wilson asked everyone to be vigilant and careful. “In less than two weeks we will be entering the hurricane season. Government is asking all citizens to start cleaning up around their homes and in their neighborhood. Everyone should start preparing and ensuring that their house is in order. It is not an easy time that we are living in as we are confronted with the corona crisis while also having to prepare for the hurricane season. Let us not forget we are all in this together and we are a resilient people and we have shown over and over that we are a strong community.”