BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, October 14, 2020 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – On the Tuesday, October 13 edition of Leadership Matters, Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris said his caring Team Unity Government continues to provide the necessary financial and social assistance to the people of St. Kitts and Nevis during this difficult time.
Thisrange of support includes the comprehensive $120-million stimulus package introduced by the Government in March of this year to help cushion the economic impact from the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“To help our employees keep their heads above water, my Government provided several relief and social safety net measures including the waiver of water payments for 6 months (April to September) to those who suffered loss of income as a result of COVID-19; we instituted a moratorium on electricity payments for some six months, a moratorium to those with mortgages with commercial banks. To date, we are advised that over 2,000 holders of mortgages valued at over $400 million have benefited from this programme,” Prime Minister Harris said in his remarks.
Theprime minister stated that the Government has also facilitated an additional 940 persons – who lost incomes due to COVID-19 – on the Poverty Alleviation Programme (PAP).
Dr. Harris said, “The PAP beneficiaries count peaked at about 5,800 as more households lost their breadwinners and applied to the Ministry of Sustainable Development to become enrolled as a recipient of the PAP programme. Up to September 2020, my Government has paid out $23 million for the year so far in Poverty Alleviation stipends to assist the poor and vulnerable in our midst.”
PrimeMinister Harris, who also serves as Minister of Finance, noted that further assistance came to the people through the Severance Payment Fund, after his Government injected $11.1 million into the fund to cover the cost of COVID-19 related redundancies and long service payments.
“So far 1,855 claims have been made for severance payment and 620 have completed the necessary processing requirements and are ready for payment. Significant claims have been processed from the Marriott Hotel, OTI Hotel, Park Hyatt Hotel, Four Seasons Resort, Nisbet Plantation, TDC Airlines, Caribelle Batik, Delisle Walwyn – particularly Kantours, Vacation Tours and SKI Safari to name some of the entities in the tourism sector. Of course, claims have been received and are being processed for workers in the manufacturing and construction industries,” the prime minister added.
PrimeMinister Harris said the Government has engaged the services of an actuary on how it can improve the Severance Payment Fund and make it more sustainable. The Government is currently awaiting the actuary’s report, which will be discussed with the Tripartite Committee – specifically the Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the workers’ representatives – and the public before action is taken.