by Eulana Weekes
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis has decided to revamp the execution of the Poverty Alleviation Programme (PAP), declaring that continuity of the programme as it has been managed over the past years, is not financially prudent.
On Sunday night (November 27), The Hon. Dr. Geoffrey Hanley, Minister of Community Development and Social Services, notified the public of the problematic situation under which the state has found itself with the Poverty Alleviation Programme.
“On October 3rd 2022, the Ministry of Social Development and Gender Affairs received from the Ministry of Sustainable Development files related to the application for the Poverty Alleviation Programme. A preliminary examination of the information has revealed the following:
Not all payees have an actual application on file. The central reason for this was a process called ‘Ministerial Submission’ whereby any member of Cabinet could have submitted to the attention of the Treasury Department a listing of persons to be added without any verification.
No Social Security Number being provided- This was as a result of the submission of names and not full application forms or persons simply not providing the same.
Incorrect application information which included names. The incorrect names made it possible for one person to receive two benefits by switching of their names. For example- John James Doe and James John Doe
Next, the incorrect banking information- As for the banking information, this led to incorrect posting to banking accounts not belonging to the beneficiary, which without a waiver or consent, the state had difficulty requesting or receiving the return of the funds.”
According to Dr. Hanley, civil servants who did not fit the criteria were removed from the Poverty Alleviation Programme, thus saving the Government some funds.
Dr. Hanley clearly stated, “My first action related to this programme was to “direct the Treasury to cease payment to any public servant with a salary above EC $3,000.00 – the eligibility criteria for enrollment. This resulted in 100 persons being removed from the payee list, saving the Government EC $50,000.00 per month. For full disclosure, the monthly salaries for those who were removed ranged from EC $3,018.00 to EC $5,291.00.”
The Social Development Minister explained that other individuals were also removed from the Programme.
In addition, the Social Services Minister said that the management of the Programme has been alarming, as crucial aspects have not been followed for years.
“Though promised since the inception of the programme, case management has not been provided. As a result, no individual or household has formally graduated from the programme since December 2018. This is particularly alarming for two reasons; the first is that such an omission defies the best practice of a cash transfer system whereby a clear graduation date is provided. Secondly, the programme has moved away from an assistance to a requirement for living. The beneficiaries require assistance to meet their basic needs instead of using it to correct challenges and advance.”
Considering the annual budgetary allocation, Hanley disclosed that the programme, at the end of July, had used up most of its funds.
“When the St. Kitts Nevis Labour Party won the General Elections on August 05th 2022, there were 7,469 payees receiving either regular pap or pap expanded for COVID. The monetary value for each was EC $3,480,000.00, payable to 6,960 regular PAP beneficiaries and EC $254,500.00 to PAP as expanded for COVID [payable]
to 509 beneficiaries. This totalled a grand payout of EC $3,734,500.00.”
The annual budgetary allocation for the Poverty Alleviation Programme is EC $32,250,000.00, but, according to Dr Hanley, “as of July 31, 2022, the Programme had spent EC $26,121,500.00 which left a balance of EC $6,128,500.00 for the remaining five months of the year.”
To resolve the issues, the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis has launched a new application process whereby all households who meet the eligible criteria can apply.
“Based on these and earlier findings, it is the decision of the Federal Cabinet that a registration process be undertaken to regularise the Poverty Alleviation Programme. Regularisation means that the new process will ensure that all payees have a valid application form that can be used to confirm the eligibility criteria of the household earning less than EC $3,000.00 per month. The registration process is open to all present eligible payees, and any person who [has] not yet applied for or received a PAP benefit, but their household circumstances fit the eligibility criteria.”
An online application form is available on the web address pap.gov.kn. An instructional video can also be found on the government’s website www.gov.kn on or before Wednesday, November 30, to assist those who may need guidance in completing the online application form. Equally, a Community PAP Registration Schedule has been organised in St. Kitts and runs from November 28 to December 2, 2022, and December 5 to December 9, 2022. The process takes place at the various community centres and churches on the island.