NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (April 13, 2023)- Just over 400 persons living on Nevis are presently benefitting from the Poverty Alleviation Programme (PAP).
The PAP, funded by the Federal Government on St. Kitts, provides a monthly stipend of $500 per month to households earning less than $3,000 per month.
The Hon. Mark Brantley said while social safety nets play a critical role providing support for the more vulnerable members of society, able-bodied persons should guard against becoming reliant on government assistance and seek to become gainfully employed.
“On the island of Nevis what we have said as a government is that we want to see these programmes shrink; we want to see them get smaller over time. Why? Because we want to see more people employed. We want to generate sufficient activity in our economy that more and more of our people find gainful employment. So when I talk about not one but two call centres opening, I talk about geothermal, I talk about small businesses- we are encouraging our people to find employment and we feel that once that is done and we create the environment on the island where jobs are available, that we’ll see the number of individuals requiring social assistance fall. That is the intention.
“Don’t get me wrong. We understand that there will be some in our community who will require long-term assistance because of disability, because of difficulty of one form or another. We understand that all of us are not equally positioned in the community and we of course pledge to have the safety nets in place for those individuals who genuinely are in need of such safety nets. Having said that however, we encourage those who are able-bodied and able-minded to seek work and we are creating in Nevis jobs, jobs, jobs, so that our people can go out and find gainful employment. That is the intention.”
The PAP recently underwent an initial review in order to remove participants who were defrauding the system by registering with false information, double registration in some households, underreporting their income and number of working household members and the like.
The programme’s staff on Nevis participated in online training discussions with colleagues at the Ministry of Social Development in St. Kitts to fine-tune logistics for case-work and monitoring of the participants from Nevis currently on the programme. A further internal working, and case-work and monitoring for this programme has been planned for April 13, 2023.
Premier Brantley highlighted the fact the Federal Government has mandated that the programme participants will be on for six months in the first instance, after which their situation will be reviewed periodically to determine if they still qualify for the assistance.
“After six months there will be an evaluation to determine who stays on and who comes off, so I want people to understand that it is not intended to be a lifetime commitment. It is intended to be six months at a time; that’s my understanding, and we will be monitoring through case work, etcetera.”
He encouraged persons to look for employment wherever jobs are available, citing the Nevis Island Administration’s (NIA) ongoing efforts to create an economic environment conducive to the growth and expansion of entrepreneurship and local businesses, and to attract foreign investment.