Government re-commits to improving social safety net

Prime Minister Douglas

St. Kitts, December 18, 2010 (SKNIS): Recognizing the power of social protection and poverty alleviation as a tool for developing sustainability and economic stability, the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis remains committed to enhancing the quality of life of all citizens.

Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Honourable Dr. Denzil L Douglas in his Budget Address on Tuesday December 15, re-emphasized government’s efforts to proceed towards “strategically creating and improving initiatives in the areas of community development, family wellness, gender mainstreaming, the promotion of children’s rights and the overall improvement of the standard of living.”

In connection with this particular subject, The St. Kitts and Nevis Information Service (SKNIS) previously captured the Social Services Consultation Agenda held in April of this year when Mrs. Violet Speek-Wanery, Deputy Representative of UNICEF had expressed that United Nations and World Bank agreed that universal access to social transfer and services should be one of the ways to alleviate the global economic crisis. Both bodies emphasized that social programmes should not only act as stabilizers in the present economic crisis but should be used to address social and economic inequalities in the future. In conjunction with the Prime Minister, she had revealed, “social protection addresses some of the underlying social vulnerabilities and gives small countries a chance to re-evaluate their methods and strategies.”

During his Budget Presentation Prime Minister Douglas further indicated that, “Although the components of an appropriate safety net system exists, it has become necessary to strengthen and rationalize these programmes to ensure that they address priority vulnerabilities and risks in a more efficient and effective manner.” He further noted that the Ministry of Health, Social Services, Community Development, Culture and Gender Affairs has undertaken preparatory work to develop an integrated and comprehensive National Social Safety-Net Strategy based on the recommendations of the Social Safety-Net Assessment Report presented by Mrs. Warnery.

Meanwhile, focus on the rehabilitation of juveniles and young adults, proceeds with the construction of the Co-ed Juvenile Facility, “a component under the Child Development Project, which is being constructed to address the need for appropriate rehabilitative measures and effective assimilation of youth offenders in society. The training of Teachers, Social Workers and Juvenile Court Officers with the necessary tools in detecting [deviant] behavioral patterns is ongoing,” the St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister said.

Prime Minister Douglas explained that in an effort to further improve the social protection strategies his Federation along with other CARICOM member states have adopted the “Chile Puente Programme,” which has assisted in the reduction of poverty in Chile. He expressed that the programme “empowers families in extreme poverty through psychological support, and lends assistance in areas for improving the quality of life namely, in health, education, housing, employment, family dynamics, civil registry and income generation.” Implementation begins in 2011.

He noted that, “Kairi Consultants of Trinidad and Tobago was contracted to undertake the development of our National Poverty Reduction Strategy to provide a cohesive approach to our poverty reduction programmes – a vehicle by which government can influence the process leading to its articulation and implementing of efforts to reduce poverty.” According to the Prime Minister these initiatives will effectively continue to address the most vulnerable in society using preventive interventions, rehabilitative and sustainable measures.

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