(ZIZ News) — Citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis have many reasons to celebrate as the country’s Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Dr. Denzil Douglas, made three major announcements during his Independence address to the nation early Friday morning.
Prime Minister Douglas revealed that his administration has approved an increase in the country’s minimum wage. Effective November 1st, 2014, the minimum weekly wage will be EC$360 ($9 per hour); a $40 increase from EC$320 ($8 per hour).
Hundreds of spectators cheered the Prime Minister as the announcement signalled another example of his administration delivering on promises made.
Pensioners receiving benefits from social security were pleased to learn that they too will receive an increase on their monthly income.
“We have also ensured that the aged are not forgotten and that they are given the opportunity to enjoy the rest of their years in a dignified manner hence, the Ministry of Social…but we believe that they also need regular increases in their income to maintain or improve their standard of living. Hence, it is with much pleasure that I announce tonight, the first day of our Independence 31, that the cabinet has approved an increase in social security pensions with effect from July 1st 2014,” he said.
Minimum age pension will be increased by 7.5 percent from $400 per month to $430 per month while non-contributory pension will be increased by two percent to $255 per month.
Prime Minister Douglas also revealed that other pensions awarded prior to 2010 will be increased by six percent while pensions awarded in 2010, 2011 and 2012 will be further increased by two percent. Pensions awarded last year will increase by one percent.
The biggest of the announcements however, was perhaps related to the payment of electricity bills for residential customers. Thousands in attendance at Warner Park stadium rose to their feet, some applauding while others cheered, when Prime Minister Douglas declared that arrears on electricity bills, prior to 2011, will be “wiped clean.”
“Many of our people, they have struggled but have fallen behind and have had to suffer the embarrassment of having their electricity supply disconnected. it is therefore with a sense of relief that I announce, today, Independence Day 31, that all arrears, all arrears, all arrears, all arrears of electricity by household, that relate to the period prior to the establishment of SKELEC in 2011, would be written off,” he said.
The Prime Minister’s powerful message received overwhelming endorsement from commentators, spectators and bloggers on social networking sites including Facebook.