Independent Senator Adrian Augier has asserted that the pace of National Insurance Corporation (NIC) payments under its Economic Relief Programme (ERP) is not ‘fast enough’.
Augier told reporters Wednesday that according to an announcement he heard on the radio, the NIC indicated that they were just starting to process May payments.
“We are in July,” he observed.
“I think that pace is not fast enough because for many people, that’s the only option they have,” Augier explained.
“You don’t want to be in a situation of too little, too late,” the Independent Senator stated.
He indicated that ways need to be found to accelerate the pace.
Augier suggested exploring the use of additional staff or additional hours.
“I know it is a difficult and costly time for the economy, but definitely we need to improve upon that because people are waiting for this, in some cases as their only hope of sustaining themselves,” he declared.
However, Augier recalled that the Economic Relief Programme has fortunately been extended for three months until September 30.
He expressed the hope that by then, Saint Lucia will see a resurgence in the economy and people will be able to ‘breathe again’.
Nevertheless, he warned that the period ahead would be long and difficult.
“As the Prime Minister mentioned in his closing remarks to the budget, we don’t know if there is going to be increasing uncertainty,” Dr. Augier told reporters.
The development economist and entrepreneur pointed to market conditions in the United States for tourism as being not good for Saint Lucia.
Augier noted that the European Union has now declined to admit American visitors.
“That has to give us concern,” the Independent Senator asserted.
He expressed the view that hopefully, Saint Lucia’s domestic economy can get going and as well positioned as possible now, with businesses reopening so money can flow ‘among ourselves’.
Augier said that’s because there is no immediate promise of massive change coming from the tourism industry.