BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, July 08, 2021 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – At his press conference today, Thursday, July 08 at the NEMA Conference Room, Prime Minister Dr Honourable Timothy Harris said his Cabinet took a major decision to implement a slate of new measures to help protect those most in need. These new measures are separate and distinct from those introduced as part of the $120-million stimulus package in 2020.
“We will implement an Income Support Programme in the amount of $15 million to alleviate hardships on our citizens who remain unemployed since March 2020 and are registered with the Social Security Board. A monthly stipend of $1,000 will be paid for the next three months. However, persons who have already received more than $15,000 or more in severance payment after March 2020 would not now be eligible to access the Programme,” Prime Minister Harris announced.
The prime minister noted that persons receiving assistance under the Poverty Alleviation Programme (PAP) would only be entitled to receive an additional $500 under the Income Support Programme, and persons already in receipt of a Government stipend of $1,000 would not enjoy a further benefit of $1,000.
“We will waive commercial rent for 6 months (July to December 2021) for small businesses which lease space from the Government through the Ministry of Tourism and Transport. These would include small businesses that rent booths at the Ferry and Bus Terminals, the Amina Craft Market and the Pelican Mall. We encourage private sector landlords of commercial space to give some measure of relief to their tenants. We will further reduce the VAT rate for 3 months (July to September 2021) from 10% to 5% on commercial rent for small businesses with 25 or fewer employees. To benefit you must have a valid business license,” Prime Minister Harris added.
Provisions have also been put in place to assist passenger bus operators, who as a result of the COVID-19 protocols, were asked to reduce their established seating capacity by 50 per cent.
Dr Harris said, “We will reinstate the annual Import Duty exemption for 16 tyres (4 tyres per quarter), 4 pairs of brake pads and 3 pairs of brake shoes for ‘H’ passenger buses. We will provide fuel subsidy of $400 per month to passenger bus operators for 3 months.”
The Government has also announced that it will waive stall fees for vendors using the public market until December 31 and reduce travel tax for the next 6 months in an effort to boost visitor arrival, thereby creating more income-earning opportunities for our taxi operators and other providers of hospitality services.
Recognizing that women tend to suffer more abuse during difficult times, St. Kitts and Nevis Government will increase its support to battered women through the Ministry of Social Development, and over the next six months, households with children who are differently abled will receive assistance in the form of a stipend.
According to Prime Minister Harris, the St. Kitts Electricity Company (SKELEC) has also agreed to provide a deferral on residential electricity bills for the next 3 months (August, September and October).
“This Team Unity Government promised a stronger and safer future, and with God’s help, we are determined to continue our progress in delivering on this promise even in the face of a global crisis that has crippled health systems and economies around the world. With God’s help, we will overcome the impacts of this pandemic. I have outlined initiatives that we have designed to stimulate economic activity and provide economic relief to our citizens and residents. It is my view and it is the collective view of the Cabinet that these initiatives are comprehensive, targeted and they are far-reaching in terms of the transformation that they can bring,” said Prime Minister Harris.