Government to continue support of social safety net programmes

Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, during the 2021 Budget Address on December 15.
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— In the area of Social Development, the government will continue to provide support through its social safety net programmes, says Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, during the 2021 Budget Address on December 15.

Dr. Harris noted that COVID-19 has brought fundamental changes to the way in which persons have managed their lives, and how they operate as a community.

He stated that the government has strengthened and expanded the number of social safety net programmes to lend a “hand up” required by struggling families during this very difficult period of time.

“We have spoken before about the lifesaver that the Poverty Alleviation Programme has been to many people who without this would not have been in receipt of any income from a legitimate source,” he said.

Dr. Harris said that he was advised that St. Kitts and Nevis has the largest number of safety net programmes in the Caribbean.

“We have voucher programmes, programmes targeting our womenfolk, programmes targeting our fathers and the range continues in terms of the full range of support services that this government provides to the vulnerable in our community,” he said.

Prime Minister Harris said that the government gives its assurance that the 2021 Budget Estimates provide for the buildout of the support to the various programmes.

“In particular, we propose to spend $27.8 million to continue to assist our people who are in need,” he said.

Dr. Harris said that in 2021, the government will take proactive steps to review the procedures for accessing the PAP to persons to ensure that only the deserving who meet the strict criterion of a household income of less than $3,000 will be able to benefit from the programme.

“Indeed in the context of the pandemic now, we have been a little bit more liberal,” said Dr, Harris. “We have made it a little bit more facilitating. This is part of the caring government that we have and in times when times are hard, we have to ensure that the policies provide some sense of scope and opportunities for those who have a genuine need to be able to benefit from these programmes.”

Dr. Harris said that next year the programme will be reviewed and that the government will ensure that the goals it had set earlier with respect to the PAP and other programmes that they will be adhered to.

“We will want to ensure that we will review the beneficiary list so as a person’s income has improved and they go beyond the threshold of $3,000, then they are excluded from the programme,” concluded Dr. Harris. “Those who may have fallen now into the $3,000 maximum household income will then have the opportunity to benefit.”

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