BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, Aug. 14.2018 – PRIME MINISTER, Dr. Timothy has disclosed that the government’s new social assistance programme was developed from a study that showed one in every five people in St. Kitts and Nevis were eking out a living.
The programme, which is currently in its infant stages, was kick started earlier this month when the government sent enumerators to the various communities to gather information with a view to better understand how to roll out the initiative and who will benefit.
When the entire process is completed a number of qualifying households will benefit by receiving $500 per month. The government did not specify how the money will be distributed.
Dr. Harris, while a guest on WINN’s Straight Talk with Minister Ian Liburd last evening (Aug. 13), said that while in opposition, the social assistance programme was one they thought of very carefully, after a study by a regional institution – no name mentioned by the PM- produced evidence that ‘21% of the population was living in poverty’.
“That is one in every five persons that you met on the street was poor; was eking out a living and we thought something had to be done to rectify the dilemma,” added Dr. Harris.
They pushed to rectify the problem owing to the fact that if left unchecked, the cycle of poverty will continue.
“We saw signs of that with the tremendously high number of persons, who, month after month had to have their lights cut. We saw it reflected in the calamity in the leader who imposed the 85% tariff of electricity, calling on people to come to Basseterre to march against the high electricity tariffs.”
The Dr. Harris-led Team Unity Government will end the registration and information gathering period for the “$500 per household initiative” on Friday.
Though the programme is being rolled out in phases, it is met with some bottlenecks as many people still do not fully understand the mechanisms behind the initiative.
According to PM Harris, the programme is meant for households making less than EC$3,000 per month. Which equates to the government amalgamating the entire salaries of people working in the house to see if it reaches that figure.
Dr. Harris cited the imposition of Value Added Tax (VAT) and persons unable to acquire medication as some of the burning needs that they saw affecting the people while in opposition that spurred them to make changes, including implementing the initiative.
The programme is expected to take several months before it is fully implemented, since the information will have to be cross checked with several government agencies before the final determinations are made.