(PRESS RELEASE) – Former prime minister the Rt Hon Dr Denzil L Douglas said Thursday that the stimulus package announced by Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr the Hon Timothy Harris, has completely left out the two most important areas where people will need the most help.
Addressing the nation in a virtual political meeting of his St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP), Dr Douglas also said that the Timothy Harris-led government should have implemented a multi-tiered income support programme as part of the package to ensure that the assistance would get to those who need it the most and similar to the financial assistance his Labour administration gave to workers at the St Kitts Marriott and Royal Beach Casino following the worldwide financial and economic crisis in 2008.
“Too many of our people are hurting and need immediate help. I am happy that many of our shopkeepers and store attendants, vendors and construction workers were able to return to work and earn wages for four days this week.
However my heart goes out to the many, many persons who are unable to work, or who are seeking work and can’t find work.
I refer to our hotel workers, vendors and others who are directly attached to the hotel and travel industry as well as our taxi-drivers and factory workers. I am speaking of our event planners, entertainers, DJs and sports people who may have had to cancel events for the remainder of the year,” said Dr Douglas who expressed the view that the government is an administration that “enjoys patting itself on the back, going on the BBC News and holding radio and television programmes to brag about how well things are going.”
“But this is all very, very deceptive. With Harris, the truth normally lies not in what he says, but what he doesn’t say.
For instance, Harris claims that over 1,000 persons have been able to claim the income support provided by the Social Security.
But what he doesn’t say is that many persons have not received the full $1,000 as promised and many have been receiving much less,” said Dr Douglas, who pointed out that what prime minister Harris did not say is that the EC$15 million being provided by Social Security is not part of the stimulus package he announced.
“This is an amount that Social Security is providing to its contributors based on those who are registered with it and are paying into the fund. The many self-employed persons, who do not have staff and for whatever reason may not have registered with Social Security are not included. This programme will not assist those who work in the informal economy, such as our street vendors and grass cutters either,” said Dr Douglas who pointed out that there is no income support for those who are now unemployed or not receiving salaries as well as payroll support to businesses as an incentive to keep 100% of their employees.
“There has been nothing stimulating about this fund. Payroll support should have been provided at the very beginning to assist those workers who are laid off,” said Dr Douglas.
“The $15 million being provided by Social Security is not enough; it is not reaching enough people, nor will it last long enough,” said Dr Douglas.