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BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, April 22, 2020 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris used last night’s (Tuesday, April 21) edition of the popular Leadership Matters Virtual Series to place on record his appreciation to the St. Christopher and Nevis Social Security Board, which on Monday, April 20, began its payout to self-employed persons and employees whose incomes are impacted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I must commend the Social Security Board because just yesterday [Monday, April 20], they paid their first batch of applicants their share of the $1,000 monthly assistance that we had promised as part of the stimulus wage fund,” Prime Minister Harris said.

The prime minister noted that more than one thousand applications (1,000) were processed, “and these applications covered the rank of the unemployed persons who suffered loss of earnings due to COVID-19 and of course the self-employed persons such as bus-men, hair braiders etc.”

Prime Minister Harris told the listening and viewing audience that this of course is a very positive start.

Dr. Harris further advised the nation that not all persons affected would have received assistance in that first instance, but noted that, “The good news is that the process has started and it would take some time to reach to everyone.”

Commenting on the significance of this assistance, Prime Minister Harris said while other Caribbean countries are offering similar stimulus packages, none is offering as much as the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis.

“Our Government has been doing more than any other government to provide direct support to our citizens and residents. While here, we are giving support…to help offset the decline in earnings which many would have suffered as a result of the COVID at $1,000 per month. In St. Vincent and the Grenadines, they are offering $300 on average per month. In the large oil-rich Trinidad and Tobago, they are offering $603 XCD. In Barbados, they are offering $600 per month,” Dr. Harris explained, while adding that “St. Kitts and Nevis is the most generous.”  

In additional to financial support to those whose earnings were impacted by COVID-19, the Government’s wide-ranging stimulus package also includes the postponement of the payment of property tax from June to September 2020, the removal of VAT and import duty for six months on certain hygiene products, the removal of import duty and customs service charge for six months on cold and cough preparations, fruits, fruit juices, vegetables and vitamins, as well as the waiving of payments for water consumption from April to June 2020 for individuals who have been laid off or who experience a reduction in earnings as a consequence of COVID-19.

The stimulus package also introduced a tax incentive for businesses that retain at least 75 percent of their employees – they will see an almost 25 percent reduction in the corporate income tax rate, from 33 percent to 25 percent, for April to June 2020. Under the stimulus package, there will also be a 50 percent reduction in the unincorporated business tax rate, from 4.0 percent to 2.0 percent, for the period April to June 2020.

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