BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, NOVEMBER 22nd, 2016 (PRESS SEC)  — The Team Unity administration’s decision to give an extra month’s payout in December to all civil servants, auxiliary workers and pensioners on the government’s payroll in both St. Kitts and Nevis, as well as PEP workers, CFBC employees and others in the public sector, has brought palpable relief, excitement and anticipation to the roughly 10,000 persons who will receive this “double salary.”

There is a sense of optimism for thousands of local households that can now better manage competing obligations this Christmas (such as renovating their homes, purchasing new furniture and other household durable items, making charitable donations, etc.), in light of Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris’ announcement on Saturday, November 19th, 2016 that the Cabinet of Ministers had taken the decision the day before, “to ensure that all share in the economic fortunes of our beloved country.” 

In our homes, as well as on the streets and social media, there is unmistakable relief that not only will bills be paid, but there is also excitement that a bonus will soon be deposited on the bank, and anticipation that this payout will help to achieve plans that once seemed out of reach – like purchasing a plane ticket for a loved one who wants to spend Christmas in the Federation.

What’s more, thousands of additional households are abuzz with hope resulting from the Honourable Prime Minister’s strong advocacy on their behalf during his National Address over the weekend. 

“My government encourages all entities in the public and private sectors to make a very special effort to deliver a gratuitous payment to their employees in December,” the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance said Saturday on ZIZ Television and Radio. 

Dr. Harris added that, “The Ministry of Finance will work with the CFBC [Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College] and other governmental agencies to make this happen.  We estimate that potentially EC$30 million will be pumped into the economy as a consequence of this bonus by the government.  The multiplier effect of this sum will be significant at this time of the year.  As the principal beneficiaries of consumer expenditure, we hope that our private sector firms will do more than the normal pay for their employees.” 

The country notably saw a positive multiplier effect from another one of the Team Unity Government’s people-oriented policies, when the exorbitant 17% value added tax (VAT) on food, medicines, educational supplies and funeral expenses – imposed by the former administration – was removed by Prime Minister Harris and his administration in April 2015.  Last year ended up being a banner year in St. Kitts and Nevis, with the Discounted VAT-Rate Day generating record sales and demand for consumer durables such as automobiles and furniture reaching a peak.  

Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, who is in Manila, Philippines to accept the illustrious Gusi Peace Prize for his commitment to uplifting human dignity and promoting equality as a political leader and statesman, also announced in his National Address that there would be “further assistance to boost economic activity and make life easier for the lower and middle income families” this Christmas season.

This assistance is to come in the form of duty-free concessions, for the first 400lbs, on gift packages of foodstuff and a duty-free allowance for travelers of EC$540.00 (US$200.00) off the C.I.F. [cost, insurance and freight] value, running from Friday, December 9th to Saturday, December 31st, 2016.

One can see, hear and feel the jubilant reaction to the news on the streets and on social media.  The consensus is that, under this Team Unity Government, households in St. Kitts and Nevis are more financially secure than just a few years before.      

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