Address on the Reform of the Poverty Alleviation Programme (PAP) Delivered by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Social Development Et Al, Hon. Dr. Geoffrey Hanley
When the St. Kitts – Nevis Labour Party won the general elections of August 05th 2022, there were seven thousand, four hundred and sixty-nine (7,469) payees receiving either Regular PAP or PAP as expanded for Covid.
The monetary value for each was three million, four hundred and eighty thousand dollars ($3,480,000) payable to the 6,960 regular PAP beneficiaries and two hundred and fifty-four thousand, five hundred dollars ($254,500) to the PAP as expanded for Covid 509 beneficiaries. This totalled a grand payout of three million, seven hundred and thirty-four thousand, five hundred dollars ($3,734,500).
These figures are alarming for three reasons:
Firstly, according to the 2011 National Census, the Federation has a total of 17,291 households: St. Kitts with 13,078 and Nevis with 4,213. Based on the beneficiary total, the results of the PAP would infer that 43% of the households in the Federation earn less than $3,000 per month. Note I said households and not individuals.
Secondly, the annual budgetary allocation for the Poverty Alleviation Program is thirty-two million, two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. As of July 31st 2022, the program had spent 26,121,500 dollars. This left a balance of $6,128,500 for the remaining five months of the year.
Finally, there is a public outcry that not all eligible households are being serviced by this Program despite the number of payees.
As you can see, continuing the Poverty Alleviation Program as is, was not financially prudent. As such, my first action related to this program was to direct the Treasury to cease payment to any public servant with a salary above $3,000 – the eligibility criteria for enrollment. This resulted in 100 persons being removed from the payee listing saving the Government $50,000 per month. Full disclosure, the monthly salaries of those who were removed ranged from $3,018 to $5, 291 dollars.
The Treasury Department then proceeded to temporarily cease any payment to an account which did not have a valid or verifiable Social Security number. This practice remains in effect up to the present.
As of October 31st 2022, 6,569 Regular PAP payments were made for a total of $3,284,500 with another 395 payments made to Covid PAP beneficiaries for a total of $197,500.
Compared to July 2022, regular PAP payees decreased by 391 – this includes the 100 civil servants with income over $3,000 and the remaining 291 which included death, households earning more than $3,000 and temporary suspensions. For the Covid expanded PAP recipients, their numbers decreased by 114 payees owing to confirmation that the payee was making more than $3,000 per month.
On October 03rd 2022, the Ministry of Social Development and Gender Affairs received from the Ministry of Sustainable Development files related to applications for the Poverty Alleviation Program. A preliminary examination of the information has revealed the following:
- Not all payees have an actual application on file. The central reason for this was a process called Ministerial submission whereby any member of Cabinet could have submitted to the attention of the Treasury Department a listing of persons to be added without any verification.
- No social security number being provided. This was a result of the submission of names and not full application forms or persons simply not providing the same.
- Incorrect application information which included names. The incorrect names made it possible for one person to be receiving two benefits by juxtapositioning their names. For example, John James Doe and James John Doe.
- Incorrect banking information. As for the banking information, this led to incorrect postings to banking accounts not belonging to the beneficiary which without a waiver or consent, the state had difficulty requesting and receiving the return of the funds.
- Though promised since the inception of the Programme, case management has not been provided. As a result, no individual/household has formally graduated from the program since December 2018. This is particularly alarming for two reasons. The first is that such an omission defies the best practice of a cash transfer system whereby a clear graduation date is provided. Secondly, the programme has moved away from assistance to a requirement for living. The beneficiaries require the assistance to meet their basic needs instead of using it to correct challenges and advance.
Regularization means that the new process will ensure that all payees have a valid application form that can be used to confirm the eligibility criteria of a household earning less than $3,000 per month.
The Registration process is open to all present eligible payees and to any person who had not yet applied for or received a PAP benefit but whose household circumstance fits the eligibility criteria.
Following this national address, the online application form will be available. The address is pap.gov.kn. An instructional video will be added to the Government’s website (www.gov.kn) on or before Wednesday, November 30 to assist those who may need guidance in completing the application form.
I use this opportunity to indicate that ALL eligible existing recipients of the Poverty Alleviation Program are MANDATED to reapply by completing the application form by December 16th 2022. Failure to do so would mean that your payment will cease effective December 31st 2022.
To support this registration and reregistration process, officers from the Department of Community Development and Social Services and the Department of Social Services on Nevis will be available at key community locations to assist those who may need assistance from 9 am to 4 or 6:00 pm daily. A schedule can be found on the Government website, all Facebook pages and posted at community centers across the Federation.
Before I close, I wish to notify the general public that the MENDING of the PAP will commence from January 2023 with the introduction of case management.
Case Management shall form the basis of the empowerment process for all beneficiaries. Utilizing the process from the M.E.N.D Families in St. Kitts and Nevis Program, individual and group sessions shall be instituted based on the needs of all persons in the households. The intention is to provide information, assistance and services to households that will be used to assist them to build resilience and independence with a view to successful graduation from the programme.
The former Labour Party Administration founded the Ministry of Social Development and Gender Affairs in 2001 to provide social safety net programs to the most vulnerable in our country. As the Ministry prepares to celebrate 22 years of existence, I take this opportunity to assure the general public that this Labour Administration remains committed to ensuring that all persons will have access to the information and resources necessary to accomplish their individual goals.
Please visit the Website pap.gov.kn to register
Good night and God bless!