(PRESS RELEASE) – My Fellow Citizens and Residents:
As Minister with responsibility for Social Security, I make this statement to refute a highly irresponsible, fake item, which has been circulated in St. Kitts and Nevis on social media.
I have been made aware that there is an organized disinformation campaign being waged against the St. Christopher and Nevis Social Security Board – and by extension against the people of St. Kitts and Nevis – by illicit actors on social media.
Their apparent aim is to sow public confusion and social unrest, and to also endanger the health of our people during this global pandemic by seeking to encourage a crowd to assemble in front of the Social Security building tomorrow, Friday, April 3rd, 2020 from 8:00am, to collect their income assistance cheques.
Let me make it abundantly clear and categorically state that there is no need for anyone to go to the Social Security building tomorrow, Friday, April 3rd, or at any other time to receive their payments until the Social Security Board makes a statement in relation to when it would be ready to disburse those funds.
This Emergency Relief Fund will pay up to EC$1,000.00 monthly for three months in the first instance to persons whose income has been impacted by COVID-19. Let me make it abundantly clear that the $1,000.00 is the maximum amount, which would be paid to any person who has suffered a loss of income.
Where any worker receives a part-time or reduced hour and receives some payment, the Social Security Board will top up the amount, which is received, to make it $1,000.00 in total. For example, if someone is paid during this period of incoming payment $400.00 for their work for reduced hours, Social Security would pay an additional $600.00 so that the person then gets $1,000.00, which the COVID Emergency Fund has promised.
Let me repeat – there is no need for anyone to visit Social Security to collect any payment at this time.
In respect of how the data is collected, the Department of Labour has written to all employers, requesting they submit to the Department of Labour the names of all the persons employed by them who will be affected by COVID-19 – resulting in their being laid off, given reduced hours or anything which reduces their income.
In this regard, I want to state again that Social Security will pay a maximum of $1,000.00 to each person who has suffered this impairment. Where there is a payment for part-time work as a result of reduced hours, Social Security will top up that amount to $1,000.00.
I make this statement because we are aware that there are those in this society who are calculated to create confusion and provide misinformation.
I want to advise that tomorrow, Friday, April 3rd, the Social Security offices will be closed to the public.
Allow me to end this statement, putting to rest the fake news, which has been circulated, by reiterating what the Prime Minister said today:
“We must all act responsibly, not just for ourselves but for the wider community. We must show greater respect and love for each other. We are fighting for the good of our communities and for our Country and we must not waver.”
We must therefore stand together to denounce unpatriotic actors who do not have the public interest at heart.
Your Ministry of Labour is collecting all of the information and we will process all of the application forms at the Department of Labour, and those would be submitted to Social Security for final processing and payment.
Let me advise that Social Security will issue – when it is ready, in the shortest possible time, later this month – the times and dates when such payment would be made.
In the first instance, because Social Security will not have all of the bank accounts for all of the workers so affected, I am advising that the first tranche would be paid at Social Security, and that information (regarding the time and date) will be given by notice from the Public Relations Officer at Social Security.
Let us stand together and let us not be fooled and misled by this destructive fake news, which is a creation of those persons who have no interest but to create confusion in this country.
May God continue to bless our beloved Federation, and let me also remind you that the workers of this Federation are dear to the hearts of the Ministry of Labour and the Team Unity Government – and we will do all in our power to ensure that the interests of the workers are properly looked after, and this Emergency Fund Payment to provide income assistance is one such way that the Ministry of Labour in conjunction with the Social Security Board is making this a reality.
May God continue to bless our beloved Federation, and may we come out of this challenging time stronger and more united as loyal citizens and residents of St. Kitts and Nevis.
I thank you, and please be guided and not be led astray by the fake news purveyors in this country. God bless you; thank you and be safe – stay indoors when the curfew indicates.