On one of my daily commutes between islands, I was challenged by a friend, a scholar, who questioned some information that was presented in the article “We Told You So.” This” article gave an explanation of Social Security’s performance over the period January to June of 2008.” The data was “newsified” later in newspapers and on the internet by the PR department of the government.” “Eight hundred jobs? Which sectors were these jobs created in and are these persons still working?” he wanted to know. My first reaction was the age-old one: “It is not my job to justify the facts.”” He insisted that it was and on second thoughts I agree.” The truth needs no defence, merely further explanation; and it is never good to run away from a good cause.” Social Security, after all, is the best cause in the Federation! So here goes: I indicated some time ago that every job in the Federation is reported upon to the ILO against 17 international codes.” In this explanation, I will therefore stick to these codes and offer some explanation of them.” These jobs were created in all areas except two: Mining and Diplomatic missions.” All other areas showed hirings, with Manufacturing recording 10.3%, Construction recording 16.4%, the Wholesale/Retail trades hired 23.7%, Hotels& Restaurants employed 10.1% and Public Administration, Defence & Social Security employed 9.5% being the most active. (Wholesale & Retail trades includes mechanic shops, and sale of personal and household effects). Social Security does not register anybody twice. And you have to be employed before you can be registered. We are set up that way.” Indeed, the law allows a 14-day grace period between the day you start to work and the day you register.” Besides, by law, the registration card is to be issued to the employer who is then expected to give it to the employee.” Thus, when we see registration numbers, they are accurate in stating how many persons found work for the first time.” We can argue about how many jobs were actually created because people multi-task in St Kitts and Nevis.” We could argue over concepts such as over-employment, under-employment, seasonal jobs”whatever.” What is indisputable is that these persons came on board between January and June of 2008. “Are these people still working?” was code for whether it was the government that was hiring people (trust me, nothing was lost in translation).” I can find out but I won’t, because that is neither here nor there. Besides, I have already indicated that over 90% of the new workers were NOT public employees.” What I will indicate is that there has been no fall off in income coming into Social Security from the working people of this country. We are comforted and strengthened by that because it indicates the high level of confidence and trust that you have placed in us, despite those few people who are still dodging and hiding. Indeed, the first half of 2008 was better for us, contribution wise, than the first half of 2007 by $3.5m, over 11%. This is greater than the 4″5% that is attributable to annual increments and even factoring in the salary increases granted by the government. Furthermore, there was improvement for both the employed sector and the self-employed sector.” People are working; people are insuring themselves and we thank all of you very much! Final word.” We welcome scrutiny and we welcome challenge. We have no cloak and certainly no dagger – nothing to hide. We are so transparent now that we have become translucent. As my good friend Fidel liked to say and my minister always reminds us, Social Security is the people’s social security.” We like it when people claim ownership. Wait, I lied – it wasn’t my final word.” I want to share additional performance details with you. We have witnessed another 526 persons coming in to sign on with Social Security for the August to September quarter.” The Wholesale/Retail sector led the field once again. Another 58 self-employed persons registered. We have seen another 57 business startups and nine restarts while only 11 have closed down.” That is a net gain of 55 businesses. We have also seen a collection of $17.2 million in contributions, and although this is a 0.6% decline (over the second quarter) in income originating from your contributions, it is entirely consistent with the cycle of collections and with the hypothesis that high paying people retire and are replaced by bottom of the scale 16″19 -year-olds.”” To be sure, you have also benefitted through the withdrawal of EC$8.7million in benefits and so the cycle continues.” So please join the movement.” It is a very good club to become a member of.” And indeed, membership has its privileges.
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