Basseterre, St. Kitts, May 01, 2020 (SKNIS): The Ministry of Sustainable Development has introduced a new Poverty Alleviation Programme (PAP) initiative aimed at assisting persons who would have been negatively impacted in their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“With the confirmation of COVID-19 cases in St. Kitts and Nevis and the likely ripple effect on the people of our Federation, the Ministry under the leadership of the Honourable Prime Minister [Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris] and our Permanent Secretary, Elreter Simpson-Browne, moved to expand the PAP Initiative that we’ve been running since 2018. Herein, an additional $5 million was added to the budget to support persons affected by COVID-19,” said Carlton Phipps, Director of Department of Statistics
At the May 01 edition of the National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) COVID-19 Daily Briefing, Mr. Phipps said that the “new initiative aims to offer temporary support to persons who were laid off from their jobs, receiving reduce hours or pay from their jobs or their business closed entirely because of the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Additionally, persons who were made redundant or officially terminated, persons who cannot do business because the market has disappeared – tour and taxi operators, craft vendors and such like persons operating in the tourism industry – as well as persons who are unable to ply their trade because of the close contact nature of their services are also eligible to apply to the new PAP initiative.
Persons already receiving social assistance from the Department of Social Services, persons who have reduced hours and payment but are covered by the Department of Labour or Social Security’s COVID-19 Relief Fund, and persons whose household income is well over $3, 000 and that income has not been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic need not apply.
He added that to reduce the risk of spreading the virus in the office, the Ministry implemented several safety protocols “to be able to move this process forward in terms of being able to help persons while at the same time taking the necessary precautions.”
“We put online the application form at our website www.stats.gov.kn; we also launched a public awareness campaign online using Facebook and other media to get the word out that our application form is now online; we limited the number of persons allowed in the office – not more than one (1) person at a time, and we provided contact information so that persons who are willing to complete the form or have queries about the process of completing the form, that they can do so by contacting us via our telephone numbers,” he said.
Persons interested in signing up, due to the impact of COVID-19 are asked to contact the Office via telephone numbers 467-1253 or 662-3597. They can also email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the ministry’s website at www.stats.gov.kn. Interested individuals are kindly asked to submit a letter of lay-off or redundancy (mandatory) and evidence of the most recent salary/ wage slip. If you are a non-national, kindly submit country of birth and proof of residency along with your letter and salary/wage slip. All required information should be emailed.
The director stated that as of Friday, April 24, a total of 685 persons would have applied under the new initiative with 59 percent being females and 41 percent males. Seventy-two (72) percent of applications have been approved to date, while nine (9) percent were given conditional approval – meaning that persons who submitted applications provided insufficient data because they didn’t receive a letter from employer to state they were laid off. Once the relevant documents are received, applications will then move to final approval said Mr. Phipps.
Nine percent of applications were not approved because applicants submitted partially incomplete forms or additional information that was requested to make a decision was not available. He noted that the Ministry is currently reaching out to those persons to get them sorted out.
The PAP is a social assistance programme of the Ministry of Sustainable Development that was introduced in December 2018. It aims to assist the poor, the needy and the most vulnerable households in St. Kitts and Nevis. Households earning under $3,000 per month could apply and receive consideration of a $500 monthly stipend.