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Nov 15

“AS LONG AS THERE IS POVERTY…, THE GOVERNMENT MUST RESPOND,” SAYS PRIME MINISTER HARRIS  

Basseterre, St. Kitts, November 15, 2018 (SKNIS): Prime Minister, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris said that, as long as there is poverty and indigence in the Federation, the Government will provide a social protection net for those in need as a part of his administration’s good governance philosophy.

He said this after announcing that qualifying households with a total gross monthly income falling below EC$3,000 will receive a $500 monthly stipend starting next month, (December 2018), under the Poverty Alleviation Programme.

“We know when we will start, but we do not foresee an end [to the programme]. So long as there is poverty and, more importantly, indigence in the land, the Government must respond,” said Prime Minister Harris while responding to a question at his monthly Press Conference on November 14 in regards to an end date for the monthly stipend.

He further stated that, “The establishment of what is considered now as social protection nets and safety nets is now a part of the accepted way in which good Governments manage. So, in keeping with that philosophy, we also have to have a social conscience. We have to always look at the weak, the suffering, the ill, and senior citizens to ensure that they have a quality lifestyle.”

He added that his Team Unity Administration is committed to ensuring continued economic development and growth in the Federation. The Prime Minister further stated that as the demand for services improves, fewer people would be on the poverty line, thus decreasing the number of persons being supported under the programme.

The Caribbean Development Bank-funded Country Poverty Assessment in 2008, which provided a quantitative and qualitative analysis of living conditions in the Federation, revealed a national poverty rate of 21.8 percent of individuals across St. Kitts and Nevis.

“If we were to follow some passage of Scripture, the poor will always be with us, he said, adding that his administration will always ensure that there is some degree of a social net.

The Poverty Alleviation Programme is a promise made and kept by the Team Unity Administration. It was implemented in three phases, starting in August 2018. The programme started with a data collection drive followed by an investigative and assessment stage during which the data collected were verified to determine whether individuals who applied for the assistance were genuinely eligible. The last phase – the commencement of payments to qualifying households – starts next month.

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