Basseterre, St. Kitts, February 01, 2013 (SKNIS): Honourable Marcella Liburd, Minister responsible for Health, has confirmed that steps are already in motion for the establishment of a National Insurance Scheme during a Cabinet Press Conference held Thursday, January 31.
Minister Liburd who also chaired the proceedings, apologized for the absence of Honourable Richard Skerritt who was abroad on Government Business. Pertaining to Health, she outlined that the upgrade in the Public Servants’ Insurance Scheme to include aspects such as beneficiaries and the inclusion of coverage of long-term illnesses such as cancer, was one of the components of the insurance that would eventually include all citizens of the Federation.
“The next phase was to look at those workers who basically are at the end of our income bracket, who cannot help themselves,” Minister Liburd revealed. “We have a policy right now, where through the Social Services Programme/the Social Protection Programme, these people can access some form of assistance when they have to go overseas for example for health reasons. We help them in whatever way we can, but there’s always a [specified] sum. I think right now it’s limited to US$5,000 per person anytime they have to travel for some health issue.”
The Minister responsible for Health explained that such funds would be channeled into an insurance scheme which would be able to provide more significant and longer-term health benefits than the occasional US$5,000.
Minister Liburd who is also responsible for Social Services, Community Development, Gender Affairs and Culture noted that through Gender Affairs, the Women in Small Enterprises (WISE) would be launched next week. It would include those women undertaking micro-enterprises.
“Let’s be frank, wherever the women are, the children are, and so the women look after the family,” Minster Liburd emphasized. “And so under the WISE programme what we are looking to do is assist those women who sell trays, those women who have very small shops, those women who have very, very mico-businesses to help them in terms of their turnover.”
Prior to focusing on Carnival, Minister Liburd took time to reflect on the life of Tamboura “Jerry Mopstick” Kitwana who had been regarded as a “cultural icon,” who himself had made many a contribution to the National Festival. She continued by enthusing that Carnival’s last staging was quite successful citing that it had one of the largest turnouts, in particular, by mass-makers on the Street Parade Days. The Minister outlined that in spite of the late starting times there were many positive elements including that the Prize Giving Ceremony had already taken place.
It was further revealed that it was the intention to keep the Carnival Office open throughout the year.
“But I want to say that because this year is the 30th Anniversary of Independence, we in the Ministry are looking forward to having a really big and exciting Community Arts Festival to coincide with the 30th Anniversary of Independence,” Minister Liburd revealed. “And that is being worked on as we speak and so of course we will work in conjunction with Carnival.”