Nevis Premier hopeful for greater private sector partnership in 2014

NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (October 21, 2013) — Premier of Nevis and Minister of Finance Hon. Vance Amory expressed hope that the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) would find ways to establish a meaningful partnership with the island’s private sector in the development of the island’s economy in 2014.

Mr. Amory made the comment when he addressed stakeholders at a one-day Conference on the Economy, 2013, hosted by the Nevis Island Administration on October 18 at the Red Cross Building. It was held under the theme “Building the pillars for a strong society, a healthy people and a vibrant economy.”

“During the new year I would like the private sector to become more active in investment towards creating jobs. It may sometimes mean a little pinch…in order to stimulate activity, create some employment.

“It may mean reducing, for a period of time, the bottom line with a long-term goal that if we have more people employed and by the process of circulation of money within the economy through expenditure, that the bottom line after the initial shock could have some improvement in the long term. That is a thought which I would want you to engage in,” he said.

However, Mr. Amory explained that he was seeking to persuade the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Finance in St. Kitts to look at the reduction of the Value Added Tax (VAT).

“I think we’ve sought to provide an argument that if VAT were reduced, that we might see and I say might but I think on the evidence, it is perhaps better than might. What we have seen when VAT is reduced, say for two days in one month although it is a significant reduction, the expenditure picks up and the collection of government’s taxes is significantly greater than at any period.

“I think it’s something which I really would like, maybe the Chamber, and I think in St. Kitts yesterday, the Chamber really brought that home at the conference discussions we had in St. Kitts. It’s something which I would like to see perhaps in individual businesses. If things are going well and you can hire one or two more persons for a period to try and encourage some earnings from them, just as government does sometimes,” he said.

According to the Nevis Finance Minister, the NIA did not always have the money to hire persons but had done so to help with functionality.

“We don’t have the money but we hire one or two persons and try not to stretch or overstress our own overdraft. I know we are not in the business of making profit but when governments don’t function well, the whole country suffers, so we still have to try and function well.

“So it is something which I would like to see some thought being given to, that kind of activity, until we get out of the doldrums in which we have found ourselves,” he said.

Mr. Amory added that in the new year the Administration would look into the creation of new jobs and spur new economic activity through the Small Enterprise Development Unit (SEDU). He said the Unit had since been restructured.

“We have restructured that and tried to recoup a lot or look at the non-performing loans where people have had loans and never thought they should service those loans and therefore ran into serious delinquency. We had a thrust to collect the money because people sometimes feel that they need not pay back money when they have borrowed it.

It’s a culture which I want the private sector and the public sector government to begin to reverse in this country called Nevis. We have to impress on persons that when they come and they create a debt, they have an obligation to service that debt and if the servicing of the debt is not at the level to which you have committed, then go in and discuss with your creditor before the matter becomes chronic and embarrassing,” he said.

Notwithstanding, Mr. Amory stated that the NIA also wanted to change that culture in the Public Service.

“We’ve gone through a bit of embarrassment and I think it’s because we never really tried to sit with the creditors or the Administration previous to us, never sat with their creditors but thought they would go the route of giving haircuts and ignoring the debt and then the arrears mounted and the whole thing becomes catastrophic. So we want to change that culture, both in the public sector and in the private sector,” he said.

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