Government extends registration deadline for its Social Assistance Program

Kilony Johnson:  

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, August 14, 2018 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – Residents of St. Kitts who have not yet registered under the Government’s Poverty Alleviation Program now have an additional two days to do so, as the Team Unity Cabinet extended the deadline for the data gathering exercise for the historic social assistance program from Wednesday, August 15 to Friday, August 17.

Through this programme, the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis will provide financial support in the amount of EC$500 per month to those households whose total gross monthly income falls below EC$3,000.

Prime Minister and Minister responsible for Sustainable Development, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, announced the extended deadline for the landmark programme on Monday (August 13) evening when he appeared as a special guest on the “Straight Talk” radio programme hosted by his Cabinet colleague, the Honourable Ian Patches Liburd.

“Today [Monday, August 13], Cabinet took a decision to extend that period from August 15th to the 17th. So the good news is that more persons have additional opportunities to register for a determination to be made on whether or not they qualify,” Dr. Harris told listeners to the popular radio program.

Commenting on the response to the programme to date, the honourable prime minister revealed that more than 2,500 [two thousand five hundred] individual households in St. Kitts had already registered as at the end of Friday, August 10.

“This is a significant number and it tells you the state of play that the former administration left the country in,” Prime Minister Harris stressed. “This then is the most significant delivery of social assistance in the history of the country and we take particular pleasure in doing this good deed for the people. It shows that we have remained faithful to the poor of the country, faithful in our commitment to bring them closer to prosperity—that is, to improve the quality of life that is to give them a fair share in the progress of the country [and] a fair share of the resources.”

The St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister insisted that the practice of the state providing necessary resources to assist indigent families is nothing new around the world, “and that is because the reality is not everyone would achieve but we want the majority of people to be able to achieve a satisfactory level of engagement in the society and the economy that would allow them to take care of themselves.”

Prime Minister Harris further noted that his government takes its responsibility seriously and as such has put the necessary control measures in place to ensure that there is no abuse of the programme.

“For example, we will do some fact checking with regards to the declaration of income; we will check what persons provide in terms of the evidentiary support against the records of the Social Security, and we will have persons who will verify the information so that we could ensure that we minimize fraud and we minimize the waste of public resources,” the prime minister disclosed.

This fact checking and verification process will be done as part of the second phase of the Poverty Alleviation Programme that will determine whether individuals who have applied for the assistance are genuinely eligible.

Phase three will involve the actual payments to qualifying households, which will start as soon as practicable.

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