Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris presents a $500 cheque to recipient during the 2018 launch of the Poverty Alleviation Programme.

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts — As the Team Unity-led Government of St. Kitts and Nevis continues the process to finalize the 2021 Budget, Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris reaffirmed his administration’s intention to ensure the continuity of its large array of social safety net programmes going forward.

Prime Minister Harris said that during this budgetary process his government is focused on cost containment, as well as the efficiency and efficacy in the delivery of services. He noted however that the protection of the poor will remain a priority in 2021.

“We shall preserve our Poverty Alleviation Programme with strict compliance to the household criteria,” said the Hon. Dr. Harris. “We shall preserve our support to parents through the stipend to each child in early childhood. We will continue our social services support with the voucher and other programmes. We will protect our women and girls from abuses of all types. Our school children will receive support from the Student Education Learning Fund Programme, free dental care, and the waiver of examination fees. Certainly, for those with the entrepreneurial zeal we will provide through our Fresh Start programme support to micro, small and medium sized enterprises.”

Earlier this year, the government made provisions to accept an additional 940 persons who lost incomes due to COVID-19 onto the Poverty Alleviation Programme. Up to September 2020, the Government had paid out $23 million under this programme.

Prime Minister Harris said it is evident St. Kitts and Nevis boasts one of the most comprehensive social safety net programmes in the Caribbean, “and we can add the vital contribution of Social Security in supporting over 800 persons with non-contributory benefits, that is, benefits for which they would not have contributed.”

Dr. Harris said going forward greater attention will be placed on the management of these critical programmes to ensure that only those who are most in need and who meet the necessary requirements benefit from them.