(SEARCHLIGHT) – THE NATIONAL Insurance Services (NIS) is considering making two months payment to pensioners in advance, as part of its response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
This is one of several initiatives outlined in a release from the social security agency yesterday, outlining its response to the virus.
The release said the two months pension payment was “mainly to protect them from social interaction while collecting their cheques”.
“The NIS is encouraging social distancing protocol for pensioners against spread of COVID-19. Additionally, our pensioners would be able to use the funds to assist with purchase of medication and food supplies in the event the COVID-19 situation deteriorates locally,” the release said.
The release also indicated that the social security agency intends to partner with the Government on the construction of the Isolation Facility at Argyle, which would be used should more Vincentians be infected with the virus.
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves also made reference to these two initiatives while speaking on radio yesterday. He said there is an offer of $750,000 from the NIS to assist with the isolation facility, which means that money that had been targeted to be spent at Argyle would be available to be spent elsewhere.
The NIS also intends to install hand wash stations outside of its headquarters in Kingstown and hand sanitisers inside to promote best hygiene practices to decrease the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, it is the company’s intention to hire a nurse to be stationed at the NIS to monitor, assess and respond to employees of the NIS, as well as customers in the event that someone displays symptoms relating to COVID-19.
And the Golden Years activity centres located at Cane Grove and Black Point will be temporarily closed as of March 24, 2020, as these centres are used for activities with the elderly — a group identified as most at risk for COVID-19.
“The above actions are in keeping with the NIS’ pledge in the 2020 National Budget Address regarding socially responsible investments to improve the national health system for our people,” the release said. “Further, the actions align with the NIS’ mission of contributing to social and economic development. The NIS would continue its mandate to provide sustainable social protection to the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines.”