By Caribbean News Global contributor
CASTRIES, St Lucia – The government of Taiwan through the Embassy of Taiwan in Saint Lucia will provide additional COVID-19 support to 3,000 small businesses to help combat the spread of the novel coronavirus on the island.
The initiative costs some EC$935,800 and targets 5,000 staff at the lower income levels and 3,000 owners of micro small and medium enterprises.
According to the government information service (GIS): “The initiative was designed in collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce to assist owners and lower income employees of micro small and medium enterprises to mitigate the spread of COVID 19. SME’s have been hard hit by the pandemic, given the need to curtail business activity to prevent the spread of the virus.
Minister for commerce, industry, investment, enterprise development and consumer affairs, Bradley Felix, said: “ The government of Saint Lucia is pleased to receive assistance of just under EC$1 million from the government of Taiwan through the Embassy of Taiwan in Saint Lucia. The funds will be utilized to provide supplies to 5,000 staff at the lower income levels and 3,000 owners of micro small and medium enterprises to enhance their capacity to adhere to two components of the COVID-19 protocols—wearing masks and sanitizing.”
Permanent secretary in the ministry of commerce, Sophia Henry, thanked participants for processing the request for assistance from the government of Taiwan, said: “Thousands of lower-income employees and owners of SME’s will receive reusable face masks and a variety of cleaning supplies for use at home and in their businesses.”
Executive director of the Saint Lucia Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture, Brian Louisy, said: “We want to help businesses especially the small businesses develop the capacity to operate safely. So we sought to provide information and also the tools to do so. We thought this type of initiative will help them change the signs that are on their doors that say “no mask no entry” to “no mask come in we will give you one” so we don’t turn business away; because we need businesses to operate and we need the small and micro businesses to operate.”
Saint Lucia continues to linger without a strategic plan to combat the pandemic and reopening the economy. The government of Saint Lucia is “broke” by the admission of the finance minister before COVID-19. The country continues to operate on the benevolence of friendly nations and the availability of concessionary financing.
It is the expectation of many that the deserving SME’s will receive the full benefit of Taiwan’s good-hearted assistance, albeit the common diversion for political benefit and political discrimination as witnessed with the Constituency Development Programme (CDP) funds.
‘It is a challenge to be honest in this country. I can tell you. I suffer it every day,’ said, Guy Joseph, Saint Lucia’s minister for economic development, housing, urban renewal, transport and civil aviation, during the 2019/20 budget debate in parliament, in a display of hubris in the parliament of Saint Lucia.
As of May 10, 2021, a total of 25, 345 individuals have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 14, 435 individuals have received the second dose. These numbers are not encouraging against the odds of attaining Herd Immunity of approximately 110, 000 inoculated people in Saint Lucia.
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On Tuesday, May 11, 2021, the Ministry of Health and Wellness confirmed 147 active COVID-19 cases, and 4,700 diagnosed cases. The total number of COVID-19 related deaths reported is 75.
The World Health Assembly (WHA), will gather virtually for the 74th annual World Health Assembly (WHA), beginning on May 24, 2021. The support for Taiwan’s participation has received tremendous support.
“There is no reasonable justification for Taiwan’s continued exclusion from this forum, and the United States calls upon the WHO director-general to invite Taiwan to participate as an observer at the WHA – as it has in previous years, prior to objections registered by the government of the People’s Republic of China.”