Social Safety Nets In Place, Despite Tough Decisions Being Made, Says PM

Prime Minister Dr. Terrance Drew

[SKNIS] The government of St. Kitts and Nevis is navigating a delicate financial period but the current administration is ensuring that even society’s most vulnerable are not deprived of necessities and opportunities. There must be balance between financial prudence and the provision of social safety nets.

This disclosure came from Prime Minister Dr. Terrance Drew, at his administration’s monthly press conference yesterday, March 30.

While he addressed his government’s revisiting of various social projects to ensure efficiency and sustainability, Prime Minister Drew indicated that several tough decisions are being taken.

“I have met with international financial organizations. They are saying to us that our social programs are so big that they can buckle the country. But I took the decision that you can’t just pull away the social programs; you can’t just take away Poverty Alleviation Program (PAP) like that and we have decided that we will not take it away. This year, we are spending $30 million on PAP alone. [The international financial organizations] say well Mr. Minister of Finance how can you sustain that? But if you forego all these people at the same time, it’s going to hurt people badly. So, we had to make a decision and say we’ll take care of the most vulnerable and others,” Prime Minister Drew stated

“Social Security is paying more out than it is taking in. That is not sustainable. Therefore, while they are calling for stricter measures, I am saying that we have to be compassionate with our people. And so, we have taken certain decisions to protect our people even though sometimes you might say it comes with a little bit of pain or a little bit of bitterness,” country’s leader shared.

Dr. Drew also referenced his administration’s decision to absorb the heavy financial costs that come with the improving of the country’s electricity supply.

“The generators were old and dilapidated. We had to rush to buy new generators, send parts to France that took months to repair. We have a bill in front of us of $109 million, to get two updated generators, plus we might have to go into renting another at the cost of $300,000 plus per month (in addition to fuel). None of that cost we are passing on to our people because post-COVID we are saying that we cannot leave our people without electricity. I’m sure it will cost us more than $100 million this year just to keep electricity prices at a cost our people can afford. Of course, that takes away from the social programs you want to have but water is essential, electricity is essential and so we have to make tough decisions,” Dr. Drew stated.

Prime Minister Dr. Drew intimated that the people of St. Kitts and Nevis mandated his government to navigate them through tough economic times and his administration is committed tough but prudent decisions to “to keep our country on solid footing.”

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