St Kitts and Nevis Deputy PM Geoffrey Hanley provides report on Poverty Alleviation Program
St Kitts and Nevis Deputy PM Geoffrey Hanley provides report on Poverty Alleviation Program

St Kitts and Nevis: Deputy Prime Minister of the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis Geoffrey Hanley addressed the country and provided a detailed report on the Poverty Alleviation Program.

Hanley claimed that 7,469 payees were getting either Regular PAP or PAP as increased for Covid-19 from August 5, 2022, the day the St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party won the general elections. Each had a monetary worth of $3,480,000, $6,960 normal PAP beneficiaries received $3,480,000, and Covid-19 509 beneficiaries received $254,500. This resulted in a $3,734,500 total payout.

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These results are concerning for three reasons, according to the deputy prime minister:

First, the Federation has a total of 17,291 households, divided between Nevis (4,213) and St Kitts (13,078). The PAP data suggest that 43% of the households in the Federation earn less than $3,000 per month based on the total number of beneficiaries.

Second, the Poverty Alleviation Program has a thirty-two million, two hundred and fifty thousand dollar annual financial allocation. The programme had spent 26,121,500 USD as of July 31, 2022. The remaining balance for the final five months of the year is $6,128,500.

Finally, despite the Program’s payee count, there is a public outrage that not all eligible homes are receiving support.

He continued by saying that his first move in relation to the programme was to instruct the Treasury to stop paying any public employee earning more than $3,000 per year, which was the requirement for enrollment. As a result, 100 people were removed from the payee list, saving the government $50,000 per month. For the record, the incomes of those fired ranged from $3,018 to $5,291 per month.

According to the deputy prime minister, the Treasury Department then halted all payments to accounts without a legitimate or verifiable Social Security number. This practice is still in use right now.

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Hanley reported that as of October 31, 2022, 6,569 Regular PAP payments totalling $3,284,500 had been made, and an additional 395 Covid-19 PAP payments totalling $197,500 had been made to beneficiaries. He further added that on October 3, 2022, the Ministry of Social Development and Gender Affairs received papers pertaining to applications for the Poverty Alleviation Program from the Ministry of Sustainable Development.

He also mentioned the Federal Cabinet’s intention to launch a registration process in order to formalise the Poverty Alleviation Program. By regularising, the new procedure will make sure that every payee has a legitimate application form that can be used to verify the eligibility requirements of a household earning less than $3,000 per month. All current eligible payees, as well as anyone whose household meets the requirements but who has not yet applied for or received a PAP benefit, are welcome to participate in the registration process.

“I would like to take this opportunity to inform all current eligible participants of the $500 Poverty Alleviation Program that they MUST submit an application by December 16, 2022. If you don’t do that, your payments will stop as of December 31, 2022,” he warned.

Further, Deputy PM Hanley stated, “Officers from the Department of Community Development and Social Services and the Department of Social Services on Nevis will be available at key community locations from 9 am to 4 or 6:00 pm daily to assist those who may need such assistance to support this registration process.”