Basseterre, St. Kitts, May 18, 2020 (SKNIS): Bus drivers and taxi operators have been included to benefit from the $120 million stimulus package to help those negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, says Minister of Transport, the Honourable Ian Patches Liburd.
The minister was at the time speaking at a ceremony to hand over 200 masks from Sun Island Clothes Ltd. to bus drivers. The ceremony also served to launch a video on bus operations during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Thank God that we have a government like Team Unity government at this time,” said Minister Liburd, noting that because of the government’s leadership and fiscal prudence it was able to launch the $120 million stimulus package.
Minister Liburd said that the leadership within the Cabinet unanimously approved the stimulus package that was announced early, but subsequent to that, they recognized that some sectors were not included, which were the bus drivers and some taxi operators.
“I want to make the point that the records will reflect that there are some 606 or 610 buses registered on St. Kitts and Nevis. There are over 700 taxis registered on St. Kitts and Nevis and there are just about over 150 Ground Tour (GT) operators as well,” he said, noting the challenge that was faced from a fiscal standpoint.
“We would have over that period (2009-2010) to try to subsidize the loss of your earning and out of the recommendations from the bus and taxi associations, we came up with a decision in Cabinet which reads: ‘Cabinet on May 14th, 2020, approved that the stimulus package announced to assist businesses during the COVID pandemic would extend to bus operators and taxis,’” said Minister Liburd.
The minister also said that it was decided that “concessions, which were withdrawn due to the restructuring and IMF programme should be reinstated and that duty free concessions for brake pads, shoes and other parts within reason be granted to them on application.”
In addition, it was decided that “those whose income falls below $3000 per household should be encouraged to apply for the Poverty Alleviation Programme. They should also be encouraged to access the Social Security Initiative for assistance whether or not they are current with their Social Security payments,” said Minister Liburd.
Minister Liburd assured the public transport sector that even though discussions with the associations are ongoing, the Team Unity Administration recognizes the important role it plays in terms of transportation.
“As the minister, I can assure you that I will continue to encourage even my own Cabinet colleagues to look into further concessions where necessary for the bus drivers and taxi operators as well,” he said.