Social Security relief package set up to assist workers impacted by COVID-19 pandemic

Basseterre, St. Kitts, March 26, 2020 (SKNIS): Senior Minister and Minister of Labour, the Honourable Vance Amory, said that the Department of Labour and the St. Christopher and Nevis Social Security Board will assist in ensuring that persons who qualify for the temporary relief measures for workers impacted by COVID-19 can get the help that they need.

The relief measures were announced by Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris at a press conference on Tuesday (March 24, 2020). Dr. Harris also gave practical examples of who would qualify for relief during a virtual town hall meeting later that evening.

“Let’s take, for example, a cleaner at a hotel, who may now have one day or two days work and end up perhaps getting $700 at the end of the month, the Social Security initiative will top that up by $300, ensuring that that person will not receive less than $1,000,” he stated.

This relief measure will run for three months in the first instance.

Senior Minister Amory said that officials from the Department of Labour are contacting various companies to get the names and other relevant details of employees who would have been laid off or assigned reduced working hours due to the impact of COVID-19.

“We are not opening the flood gates for persons who feel or believe they want a benefit. It has to be persons who have suffered loss of income as a result of this crisis and therefore we are going through this very systematically to make certain that we get the names …,” the senior minister indicated.

Additionally, he said that “Social Security will provide the necessary background work so that … the names can be entered into the system, and they can then receive the benefit.”

Some of the measures relating to relief for workers came as a result of a meeting held last week that was convened by Senior Minister Amory in his capacity as Minister of Labour. The meeting was attended by officials from the Department of Labour and the Ministry of Finance as well as the St. Kitts and Nevis Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Manufacturing Association, St. Kitts-Nevis Trades and Labour Union, and the St. Kitts Teachers Union.

At the meeting, a stimulus package for businesses impacted by the coronavirus was also discussed. Prime Minister Harris’ announcement on Tuesday also incorporated a reduction in corporation tax for April to June, as well as other relief measures.

Senior Minister Amory said that the comprehensive relief package was well thought out and is reflective of the government’s priority to empower all residents while practicing good governance and accountability.

He added that it was important for persons to remain calm and focussed during the coming days and weeks. The senior minister said that the creative, groundbreaking economic package should help to inspire residents to adopt more responsible lifestyles.

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