Basseterre, St. Kitts, December 15, 2015 (SKNIS): The number of registered businesses in St. Kitts and Nevis continues to rise according to statistics from the Social Security Board and the Federal Government has signaled a commitment to grow and strengthen the private sector.
While delivering the Budget address in the National Assembly on Tuesday (December 15), Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, highlighted his administration’s policy to support business growth.
“During the first six months of 2015, a total of 304 new businesses were registered with the majority comprising of small entrepreneurs,” the prime minister reported, noting that promoting micro, small and medium-sized enterprises will remain an important element. He added that when coupled together, these businesses play a vital role in creating employment and generating a steady income for employers and employees.
“Over the medium term, my Government therefore will focus its attention on facilitating entrepreneurship and development of small businesses. In particular, emphasis will be placed on areas such as manufacturing and services,” Prime Minister Harris outlined.
The Fresh Start Programme was listed as an example of the Government’s commitment. Fresh Start has offered concessionary loans to individuals to pursue business ventures. Funding of US$5 million was provided by the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela for the programme, which has being administered through the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis. Some 200 persons have already benefitted from the initiative operating in the fields of tourism, law, public transportation, fisheries, agriculture, retail and wholesale.
“This initiative of the Team Unity Government is positively impacting persons who may otherwise be marginalized in terms of their ability to secure the necessary capital from the commercial banking system,” Prime Minister Harris said.
With reports that the programme has been oversubscribed, the St. Kitts and Nevis leader said that “we are negotiating a further support from the Government of Venezuela to meet the overwhelming response of our young people to our Fresh Start Programme.”
Locals and aspiring entrepreneurs can also look forward to the full implementation of the Small Business Development Act (2009) which was designed to support small businesses and entrepreneurial development. A recent review resulted in draft regulations being formulated and submitted to the Ministry of International Trade, Industry and Commerce and the Attorney General’s Chambers. It is expected that the document will soon be submitted to the Cabinet for approval and operationalization.