“From time to time, I flip the cover of the manifesto and, in that, we highlighted seven or eight things which were the priority of the Team Unity administration, and it blesses my heart to see almost all of them have been actioned,” said Dr. Harris during a recent appearance on the Frank and Candid programme on ZIZ Radio.
Among the policies the Honourable Prime Minister mentioned was the payment of $16 million in overdue gratuity to more than two thousand former workers of the St. Kitts Sugar Manufacturing Corporation (SSMC).
“There are persons who meet me in the streets and say, ‘I am so pleased with what you have done’,” Prime Minister Harris disclosed, adding that the settling of those overdue payments signaled to many individuals that “the years of toil of their families had not been in vain.”
Another policy decision that was of particular importance to Dr. Harris and his Team Unity administration was the reorganization of the People’s Employment Programme (PEP) into the Skills Training Empowerment Programme (STEP) to offer genuine skills training that can add to the employability of participants.
“We’ve seen some good signs of this in the public sector where we’ve had a nice cadre of people involved at the Customs and Excise [Department]. We’ve also had good examples of this in the private sector where, for example, those who were working with Regiwell Francis [of St. Kitts Marine Works] were taken on fully in probably less than three months and upgraded in pay and upgraded in status,” said Prime Minister Harris, who is also the Minister of People Empowerment.
The roll out of the Poverty Alleviation Programme is another major promise made and one that is now being kept by the Team Unity Administration. Under this programme, qualifying households with a total gross monthly income below EC$3,000 will receive a $500 monthly stipend starting next month (December 2018).
The Prime Minister cautioned those who are going to benefit from the Poverty Alleviation Programme to use the stipend wisely, noting, “What we are trying to do is help people to help themselves, but when we help you we are saying do not abuse it or use it on frivolous things.”
Other notable manifesto promises fulfilled by the Team Unity Government include the removal of the Value Added Tax (VAT) from food, medicine, educational supplies, and funeral expenses; the introduction of Universal Healthcare, which is presently in the advanced consultative stages, and the establishment of improved relations between the Federal Government and the Nevis Island Administration (NIA).