Basseterre, St. Kitts, October 21, 2020 (SKNIS): Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris lauded several key public servants and entities for playing an integral role in keeping the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis functioning during the peak period of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“As we look forward to this important milestone in the opening up of our country with a view to sustain recovery in the COVID-19 era, I want to place on record the Cabinet’s deep appreciation to several outstanding public officials for their work to date,” said the prime minister on October 20 edition of ‘Leadership Matters’, a virtual forum on ZIZ TV. “I especially want to thank those of our public servants who went beyond the call of duty to ensure the continuity of Government at the onslaught of enduring the difficult period of the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
Dr. Harris reflected on the stay at home order that was implemented under the COVID-19 Emergency Powers Regulations to keep citizens and residents safe from the virus. He said that despite the lockdowns and curfews, “during the difficult first months April to June 2020”, the performance of various departments were exemplary.
“Allow me then to recognize the work of the leadership of the Ministry of Finance who took the lead role in devising the plan for keeping Government functioning and for their outreach efforts to various economic actors at a time of high uncertainty and fear globally, regionally, and right here in St. Kitts and Nevis,” he said. “The unveiling of the stimulus plan led to a calming of the waters. Our COVID-19 stimulus package is to date the largest and the best one to be unveiled anywhere in the Caribbean region.”
He also recognized the Accountant-General Levi Bradshaw and the Treasury Department for “ensuring that every week, over 4000 weekly-paid public sector workers were paid on time.” Mention was also made of the Head of the Payroll Unit and the Chief Personnel Officer, as well as the Chief Executive Officer of STEP and their staff for their excellent work and outstanding support.
The health care sector also came in for commendation. Dr. Harris noted that Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Delores Stapleton-Harris and the Health Emergency Operations Centre (HEOC) “worked very hard to ensure the readiness of St. Kitts and Nevis by organizing the procurement of essential personal protective equipment, vehicles, the Cuban medical brigade and much more and indeed for putting in place an effective public education and outreach programme to inform and educate the public about the dangers of COVID-19.”
The Ministry of Sustainable Development ought not to be forgotten as it continues to play an important role in “ensuring the continuity of payment” under the Poverty Alleviation Programme (PAP). The prime minister indicated that to date $23 million have been paid over the period January to September 2020, with an expected $31.1 million by year-end.
Equally important, the prime minister also recognized the Labour Department for being critical in processing just over 700 severance claims to date; the Office of the Attorney General for its work with the Emergency Powers COVID-19 Regulations that has kept citizens and residents safe and secure from COVID-19 over the last seven (7) months; the Government Printery for going beyond the call of duty to get SROs gazetted; ZIZ for delivering real-time updates on COVID-19, as well as the HEOC and NEOC for their tremendous work.