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The 2021 Income Support Programme was announced by Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, during his monthly press conference on July 08. He indicated that $15 million have been allocated to the programme to alleviate hardships on persons who are still unemployed since the first wave of the deadly Novel Coronavirus last year.
“A monthly stipend of $1,000 will be paid for the next three months,” Dr. Harris indicated, noting that persons must be registered with St. Christopher and Nevis Social Security Board. Being registered allows the Board to validate the applications to the programme.
There are other eligibility requirements that must be met.
“Persons who have already received more than $15,000 in severance payment after March 2020 would not now be eligible to access the programme,” the prime minister stated. “Persons receiving assistance under the PAP (Poverty Alleviation Programme) would only be entitled to receive an additional $500 under the Income Support Programme.
The PAP was launched in December 2018. It provides a monthly stipend of $500 to households earning less than $3,000 per month. The stipend from PAP and the additional $500 support from the new income support programme would bring the total assistance up to $1,000 for eligible persons.
Additionally, it was revealed that persons who already receive a government stipend of $1,000 would not qualify for the new programme.
“Our priority is to support those most in need at this time and to support as many persons as possible,” Prime Minister Harris said. “In other words, we want to be fair, and we want to be equitable in the reach of the support which the government is providing.”
The Income Support Programme was one in a series of sweeping economic relief measures to assist workers and self-employed individuals, as well as small, medium and large corporations.
Other measures announced include a three-month deferral on residential electricity bills, a six-month stipend to assist households with differently-abled children, increased support for victims of domestic abuse, and waiving commercial rent for six months for small businesses that lease space through the Ministry of Tourism and Transport.
Additionally, the Value Added Tax Rate will be reduced to 5 percent for 3 months on commercial rent for small businesses, waiving stall fees for vendors using the public market until December 31, and a reduction of the travel tax for six months to boost visitor arrivals. Further measures will see import duty exemption for 16 tyres, four pairs of brake pads and 3 pairs of brake shoes for “H’ passenger buses. Passenger buses will also receive a $400 fuel subsidy for three months.