BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, May 31, 2022 [Press Secretary, PMO] – Prime Minister and Political Leader of the 91-year-old St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) Hon. Dr. Terrance Drew reaffirmed that the party’s motto, “‘For the good that we can do” must remain the forefront of every deliberation and every action, in the pursuit of “Social justice for all” by his nine-month-old SKNLP Administration.
During the SKNLP 91st Anniversary Annual National Conference, Hon. Dr. Terrance Drew highlighted several initiatives that will benefit the people of the twin-island federation and improve the quality of their lives.
Dr. Drew told party supporters, conference delegates, members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps and representatives of local organizations that the first decision he made hours after he was sworn in as Prime Minister on August 6, 2022, was the lifting of several COVID-19 restrictions and the reopening of the full opening of the Federation’s borders for normal business.
“On the 7th of August 2022, we opened up St. Kitts and Nevis. We understood that we could not allow the economy of St. Kitts and Nevis to fail, because not only will the economy suffer, but the people as well,’ said Dr. Drew.
He pointed out also that his government paid an honorarium to the COVID-19 frontline workers because the former Administration had only paid a selected few.
“[In discharging] our principle of social justice, universality and fairness, we made sure that those who were duly qualified could have also benefitted from the honorarium,” Dr Drew told the conference.
The Prime Minister and SKNLP Leader also noted that in keeping with one of the promises made on the campaign trail leading up to the August 2022 general elections, was the payment of a dividend starting in December 2022 from the proceeds from the Citizenship by Investment Programme. Dr. Drew said it was the first time a government in the Western Hemisphere had introduced such an initiative.
Prime Minister Drew also referred to the payment of a double salary to civil servants and employees of government-owned corporations and institutions in November of 2022.
A medical doctor by profession, Dr. Drew reminded the conference and the country that his newly elected SKNLP Administration created a fund to finance all children who needed special medical care overseas if it was not available in Saint Kitts and Nevis and whose parents could not afford the expenses.
“Children who would have died a few months, are alive today because we were able to send them overseas for life-saving surgical treatment. We created the Children Medical Welfare Fund so that all children are given the opportunity to live,” Dr. Drew said.
Referring to education as a human right within his St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party administration, Dr. Drew said his government took the decision within the first few weeks of assuming office and announced that tuition at the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant would be free with immediate effect.
He also highlighted his government’s decision to reduce the interest on student loans from the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis from nine percent to five percent.
“Those who want to go on to university must have the least barriers to go. Those who go to study will have the interest frozen for four years and three months so that while you are away if your parents cannot afford it, they would not have to pay any interest and when you come back, the $15,000 which would have been accumulated would be [deemed] a credit to you and is totally wiped off,” said Prime Minister Drew.
He said that with effect from June 1, 2023, the interest on existing student loans from the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis will be reduced from nine percent to five percent.
“The savings of hundreds of dollars can be used to build wealth by investing in a mortgage or starting a small business,” said the Prime Minister.
He said hundreds of Government Auxillary Workers were stripped of increased benefits by the former Team Unity Government.
Dr. Drew said GAW workers were accustomed to have their gratuity calculated at a particular rate which gave them an advantage as to how much they will take home.
“Under [Team Unity] persons who would have been taking home $35,000, $30,000, or $25,000 were now carrying home $7,000 and $8,000,” Dr. Drew pointed out.
He disclosed that the Cabinet which he chairs recently took a decision to restore the gratuity payment to the level that it was, and those workers will now benefit.
He complimented the Attorney General, Hon. Garth Wilkin for ensuring the proper policy is in place from a legal standpoint.
Prime Minister Drew said his SKNLP administration was about to embark on the construction of the first phase of some 2,400 homes.
Dr Drew also said his SKNLP Government has taken steps to increase the minimum wage with the establishment of a tripartite task force headed by former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Labour Ambassador Sam Condor.
Prime Minister Drew reiterated his government’s commitment to build a brand-new hospital and a new Basseterre High School.