COVID-19 Relief Fund: Self-employed Worker Praises Government And Social Security

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, July 21, 2020 (MMS-SKN) — A self-employed worker who operates from Timothy Hill overlooking the scenic Southeast Peninsula was forced to close her business when tourists stopped visiting after the country’s borders were closed on March 25 this year as result of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Mrs Joanna Farrell-Tyrell was one of the hundreds of constituents who on Saturday July 18 congregated at the Constituency Office on Main Street, Tabernacle Village, to have one-on-one consultations with their Area Parliamentary Representative, and Prime Minister, Dr the Hon Timothy Harris.

“I came to see the Prime Minister today because I wanted to congratulate him on his achievement again, going back to office as Prime Minister of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis for another five years, and to ask him one or two questions in order to assist me,” said Mrs Farrell-Tyrell.

She added: “My business where I used to sell food, drinks, craft, clothes and souvenirs to tourists is not operating as our borders are closed and no tourists are coming, but I have benefitted from the government by getting the Social Security grant that they are giving, and I am grateful to that.”

Mrs Farrell-Tyrell who is from Carty’s Pasture in Tabernacle, and operates the business with her husband Mr Marlon Tyrell, used to work for a credit union in Basseterre and through her employer used to pay to Social Security. She however left the job and opened a booth at Black Rocks in 2005, but in 2010 moved to Timothy Hill as more tourists visit there.

Realising that she was losing out as no one was paying for her social security and was worried about her future, she pleasantly learnt that the St. Christopher and Nevis Social Security Board operated a Self Employed Coverage scheme. She enrolled and today she thinks that was the best thing she ever did for herself.

When Prime Minister Harris at his press conference on Tuesday March 24 announced that the Social Security Board was to establish a special fund of about $15 million to assist with income support up to a maximum of $1,000 per month for workers whose income would have been impacted by COVID-19, Mrs Farrell-Tyrell felt vindicated for having joined the Social Security’s Self-Employed scheme as she has been benefiting.

“It is important to have a self-employed coverage because as we see in a situation like this, as is happening now, we have to depend on the self-employed at Social Security to help us out,” said Mrs Farrell-Tyrell. “Once you are self-employed it is important to have the coverage. It is beneficial for us because when we reach the age of pensioners (62), we have enough contributions into the funds we will be able to get back at pension age, and in the event like another pandemic we can always fall back to Social Security if that is the case.”

She praised the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis for acting in a timely manner to secure the lives of the citizens and residents of the twin-island Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis by ensuring that the country’s borders were closed to avoid any importation of the virus that would end up infecting unsuspecting persons. She added that Covid-19 is nothing to play with.

“We are too small of a country to take on a pandemic such as the Covid,” said Mrs Farrell-Tyrell. “So I would suggest that the Prime Minister be guided accordingly by our health professionals in terms of knowing what he is doing and to only open the borders when the health professionals think it is safe to do so. Yes – we need our jobs back with people coming back and spending money in the country, but our health and the safety of the people of St. Kitts and Nevis is much more important.”

As for the other issues she raised with the Honourable Prime Minister at the one-on-one consultations, she noted that she was looking at getting assistance to have a house built on her land. She was accompanied at the consultations by her cousin, Ms Denise Jeffers.

According to records at the St. Christopher and Nevis Social Security Board, July 1, 2020 marked the 24th year since the introduction of the Self Employed Coverage. It was aimed at ensuring that entrepreneurs were provided with income protection coverage and to uphold Social Security’s mandate to offer universal coverage for all workers.

Since its introduction, 2952 self-employed persons have registered according to a press release issued by Social Security on Tuesday July 7. The release added: “Most recently Social Security has affirmed its commitment to over 1500 self-employed applicants via the Covid-19 Relief Fund for persons whose income has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.”

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