Basseterre, St. Kitts, September 19, 2016 (SKNIS): As the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis celebrates 33 years of Independence today, September 19, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, used the occasion to highlight some of the accomplishments that the country has seen since gaining Independence on September 19, 1983, from Great Britain.
“As an Independent nation, we have done reasonably well over the last thirty-three years of our independence journey,” said Prime Minister Harris, during his address to the Nation to observe its 33rd Independence Day. “Our economy today is stable. We are among the best performing economies in Latin America and the Caribbean. Our fiscal house is in a very good shape – better than most. While others suffer from negligible economic growth rates, ours is projected to be above average for the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU), the borrowing member states of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)”.
Prime Minister Harris noted that the Federation’s inflation rate is at all-time low, and this is due to the Government’s decision to remove Value Added Tax (VAT) from food, medicine and funeral expenses.
“In addition, we now have a record low for the price for oil and gasoline products. Our foreign reserves are high. There are many ongoing projects where those in need of jobs can find work,” said Dr. Harris. “Over 200 plus have benefited from our affordable, Fresh Start Loan Programme as we attempt to provide that well needed financing for small and medium sized enterprises. We will invest another $30 million over the next two years into the Fresh Start Programme.”
Dr. Harris made mention of housing in St. Kitts and Nevis and stated that the “housing programme will get started in earnest before year end, bringing well needed housing solutions to our people most in need of them”.
He added that the future prospects for the Federation are bright and encouraging, as “several hotels are to come on stream shortly, adding well-paying jobs to the economy.”
Prime Minister Harris reminded the Nation that there is so much to be thankful for, but that there is still room for improvement.
“Our quality of life is good,” he said. “We must do more in the quest for excellence. Our labour productivity must improve. We must do more in less time and we must improve the quality of our work. Come next year, my Government intends to move apace to implement pay for performance in the public sector and to encourage its application elsewhere.”
He added that “Independence requires of us a higher standard of discipline, conduct, behaviour and service in order to mold the country we deserve for ourselves and that which we wish to bequeath to the generations to come.”