Statement on Social Security Board Emergency Wage Relief Fund re COVID-19

BASSETERRE ST. KITTS, 26TH MARCH 2020 (St. Christopher & Nevis Social Security Board As our nation deals with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the priority of the Social Security Board is to ensure the health and safety of all its stakeholders. We have therefore been constantly reviewing our strategies and implementing measures to reduce the exposure of our staff, contributors and business partners while still providing a means for our insured persons to access benefits.

While we put these measures in place, we recognize that social distancing which is the major requirement to combat the rapid spread of COVID-19, has and will lead to the loss of jobs for many insured persons and this may lead to undue hardships. The significant effect of COVID-19 on the economic well-being of our insured requires an equally significant response by the Board. Consequently, we have set aside funds to a maximum value of $15M EC to assist our insured persons whose employment is affected by the mandatory COVID-19 response. To assist them through this difficult time, we propose to pay to each insured person who is laid off or unemployed including self-employed persons, as a result of the impact of COVID-19, $1000 EC per month for a period of 3 months in the first instance. These persons, though not in active employment, would also receive their contribution credits to ensure that they are not disadvantaged with respect to future benefit entitlements. In the coming days, more details on how this benefit can be obtained, will be provided through our Public Relations and Customer Services Departments.

The Board continues to look at the best model of benefits and contributions, investment and administration to develop a reformed model of providing benefits for its insured clients, especially in times like these.

Further, employees, employers, and self-employed are encouraged to see the value of their contributions to the fund, as their own hero and an institution that can usher in a guaranteed benefit in times of need.

We encourage all citizens and residents of our nation to follow the personal and work health and hygiene practices provided by health authorities including regular hand-washing with soap and water and the sanitizing of surfaces. We find ourselves in uncharted waters an although the days ahead will be challenging, we the Social Security Board will remain true to the very heart of our purpose—striving for social justice.

On behalf of the Minister, Board of Directors, Management and Staff of the Social Security Board our hearts go out to everyone affected by the coronavirus (COVID–19) pandemic in our nation and around the world.

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