by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN) – Frontline workers on Nevis will be gifted an honorarium of $2000 on or before November 30 for work done during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. That announcement came from the Premier of Nevis, Hon. Mark Brantley during his November 17 Press Conference.
The Premier said that while this was not a promise made previously, like the campaign promise made by the St. Kitts Nevis Labour Party during their election campaign, in consultation with the local government and a team set up to evaluate the viability of the move on Nevis, the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) has deemed this move worthy of mirroring.
“We decided as an administration to take some time to look at it, to assess it in the context of the island of Nevis, bearing in mind that this is a financial responsibility of the NIA, that we took some time to consider, and the Cabinet took some time. In fact, we put together a small group of technocrats to look at this matter because it was critical for us to ensure that the people who have benefited from an honorarium, and the terminology is important because an honorarium simply means it’s not something that people worked for – it is not something that is owed to them – it is something that has been given as a token of appreciation, that it was important for us to ensure that the people benefited were, in fact, the people who are on the frontline. ”
Brantley felt the need to differentiate between essential workers, which covers a broad category of workers who may not have had a heightened risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus while carrying out their duties and frontline workers being those who had a higher chance of contracting the COVID-19 virus while carrying out their duties.
The categories outlined by the Premier include Immigration officers, customs officers, taxi drivers and more who were on the frontlines between March 2020, the Federation’s first lockdown and October 2021, when the travel restrictions were eased, and borders reopened.
“That is important because there [are] some categories of persons who might have come on board after October 2021, meaning that may fall into a category of workers, but they were not necessarily employed during the period that we fought this pandemic.”
The Ministries are tasked with creating lists of names of the frontline workers who fit the following categories.
“Immigration officers stationed at Vance Amory International Airport, customs officers stationed at Vance Amory International Airport, frontline officers of NASPA and dispatchers of the Ministry of Tourism station Vance Amory International Airport and at the water taxi pier, all COVID-19 certified taxi operators who were involved in moving passengers to and from the various quarantine sites and all COVID-19 water taxi operators who were involved in moving inbound and outbound passengers to Nevis, officers of the Emergency Operations Center and the Health Emergency Operations Center located at the Disaster Management Office we have also agree that the Nursing and other auxiliary staff at the Alexandra Hospital, our health centers and mental health unit [be included], Allied staff with the Ministry of Health, all truck drivers and field attendance at the Solid Waste Management Authority, Officers of the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Tourism, all members of the first cohort of the Compliance Task Force based on Nevis and we have added Officers of the Social Services Department ”
Civil servants within the NIA will also benefit from the additional month’s salary come November 22.
“ I would wish to publicly extend thanks to the Federal Government because through our dialogue and discussions – in fact, I spoke to the honourable Prime Minister just this morning – we have established that these benefits, this windfall so to speak of a double salary, that it will be extended through to the people of Nevis as well. And so I would want to extend thanks because this is part of the ongoing conversation about a fair share of the country’s resources being available to those who are in Nevis as well. We know that 1/3 of the population resides here, and the honourable Prime Minister has indicated with great alacrity, no need for persuasion, that it was the intention that this applies across the board.”
The Premier hopes the monies will serve as a motivator and a show of appreciation to the civil servants and urged the people of Nevis to treat the additional funds as if they won the lottery and to save some of the monies for a rainy day.