Basseterre, St. Kitts, May 10, 2020 (SKNIS): Some 3,500 residents of St. Kitts and Nevis have benefited to date from the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund administered by the St. Christopher and Nevis Social Security Board.

Most of the applicants qualified to receive the full $1,000 that was allotted as the maximum monthly payment under the temporary relief measure. That takes the April disbursement close to $3.5 million.

Antonio Maynard, Director of the St. Christopher and Nevis Social Security Board, said that applications are being processed daily. Once the applications are verified, the funds are uploaded to the applicants’ bank accounts or cheques are prepared.

Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr the Honourable Timothy Harris, expressed pleasure with the leadership and staff of Social Security as well as the Department of Labour. They are collaborating closely on the income relief stimulus.

Social Security was intended as the institution that will assist workers principally who had suffered loss of income as a result of certain adversities,” Dr Harris stated on Winn FM’s Inside the News radio programme on March 09, 2020.

Adversities such as employment injury, sickness, invalidity and death are covered by Social Security, along with routine occurrences such as maternity and retirement.

The prime minister added that Social Security agencies throughout the Caribbean region offer unemployment benefits to residents and the local government had already considered the matter and drafted an Unemployment Benefit Act that would bring the system here in line with neighbouring countries. He noted that the Social Security response to the COVID-19 pandemic is providing much needed relief to self-employed persons registered with Social Security and thousands of residents whose work status was negatively impacted by the coronavirus.

There is nothing abnormal … about Social Security doing this. It is exactly what every progressive scheme should be able to do,” Prime Minister Harris stated.

The $15 million earmarked by the St. Christopher and Nevis Social Security Board to facilitate the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund will not impact the stability of the Social Security Fund.

The COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund provides up to $1,000 to qualifying residents who lost their jobs or are on reduced hours and earning less than $1,000 per month. Self-employed persons registered with social security as well as individuals made redundant as a result of the coronavirus pandemic have also benefited from this assistance.

The income support covers the month of April, May and June in the first instance.