Basseterre, St. Kitts, December 12, 2014 (SKNIS): Prime Minister the Right Honourable Dr. Denzil Douglas recommitted his government to empowering families in his 2015 Budget Address.
He emphasized that strong and stable families are the foundation of the society of St. Kitts and Nevis and it was necessary to keep that in perspective.
“Therefore, while we continue to invest in the development of a new and vibrant economy, it is imperative that my Government remains dedicated to fulfilling our social protection reform agenda to ensure that the most vulnerable within our society are adequately equipped with the knowledge, skills, abilities, and support required to fully benefit from the opportunities that are made available to them,” Prime Minister Douglas assured.
The budget also outlined that during 2014, the Ministry of Social Services, Community Development, Culture and Gender Affairs continued Phase 1 of the 2013-2016 National Social Protection Strategy. Activities included the review and reform of the Social Development Assistance legislation, the development of a Single Beneficiary Registry, the establishment of an objective targeting formula for means testing and the implementation of the Mold, Empower, Nurture, Direct (MEND) Families Programme.
Pertaining to the review and reform of the Social Development Assistance legislation, the Prime Minister elaborated that the new bill incorporated key clauses that would be essential for providing social services in modern society. As such, the new legislation which is being prepared for submission to Parliament in 2015, contemplates the inclusion of several new clauses. These address: (i) the implementation of a complaint and appeal mechanism (ii) financial and process audits, (iii) external evaluations and (iv) co-responsibility mechanisms.
Prime Minister Douglas took the opportunity to inform that the MEND programme is currently being piloted with 21 of the most vulnerable families in the Federation. It will be implemented over a two-year period and is the consolidation of four social assistance programmes, specifically – compassionate grant, poor relief, school uniform and food vouchers. He emphasized that it is “a new approach to social assistance delivery which emphasizes not only the responsibility of the State to the individual/household but the responsibility of the individual/household to the society.
While the state provides assistance, the individual/family in turn has/have to attend budget and family planning workshops, participate in skills training workshops, attend school regularly and get regular health check-ups.
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