Statement in the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly by Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris, Prime Minister on the Poverty Alleviation Programme

February 20th, 2019

 

Mr. Speaker, my Fellow Citizens and Residents are aware of the implementation of the $500 Poverty Alleviation Programme.  This is an important promise of the Team Unity Government.  This Poverty Alleviation Programme is a major accomplishment in our efforts to reduce and eventually eradicate abject poverty in our land.

On Christmas Eve, December 24, 2018, this programme was launched at the convenient location of Independence Square in full view of all and in the sunshine of transparency we have brought to Government.

So far $3.1 million has been disbursed to just about 3,500 Beneficiaries.  A number of cases are being reviewed to determine eligibility in light of self-reported information or new information brought to the Departments.

Mr. Speaker, this programme has affirmed that we are a virtuous people.  Several of the 3,500 Beneficiaries of the December 2018 payout have reported to the relevant Government Departments, such as Social Services, Accountant General or Sustainable Development, that their circumstances have changed and they could not in good conscience accept further payments.  This is very commendable.  Some of the explanations advanced include:

  1. They have found jobs, which now put their household income above the $3,000 per month threshold;
  2. They have migrated to other countries e.g. USA;
  3. Other members of their household had applied and succeeded.  At the time of their application, they were unaware of multiple applications coming from the same household.
Mr. Speaker, as we improve on the efficiency of the programme with a view on efficacious outcomes, we have given consideration to the following:

RECOMMENDATION

The Accountant General Department has recommended the following courses of action for the improved administration of disbursement of payments under the Poverty Alleviation Programme pending the introduction of the proposed Debit Card Initiative:

  1. The collection of Personal Banking Information including the Name of Bank and Account Number from all Beneficiaries either at the time of registration or cheque collection, to facilitate the introduction of Direct Payments to Beneficiary’s Bank Account by Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT);
  2. The approval of our proposal for the setting of Fixed Dates for the Payment of Monthly Benefits, as outlined below:

MONTH

Date for the Receipt of Electronic Payment File from Ministry of Sustainable Development Date for the Direct Payment to Beneficiary’s Bank Account Date for the Distribution of Cheques at the Inland Revenue Department
February 2019 Monday 25thFebruary 2019 Thursday 28thFebruary 2019 Saturday 2nd March 2019
March 2019 Tuesday 26thMarch 2019 Friday 29thMarch 2019 Saturday 30th March 2019
April 2019 Thursday 25thApril 2019 Tuesday 30thApril 2019 Saturday 4thMay 2019
  1. The enhancement of the database at the Ministry of Sustainable Development, to enhance the accuracy of the Personal Information of Beneficiaries including correct spelling of names, Social Security Numbers or other Identification Numbers. This would greatly reduce the level of inconvenience to Beneficiaries and also the large number of requests for the re-printing of cheques.  It would also avoid the need for the re-issuing of Debit Cards when this initiative is implemented.
Mr. Speaker, we will continue to monitor, evaluate and improve the processes so that our less fortunate citizens can benefit from the economic gains in our Federation without undue hardships.