BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, December 15, 2020 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris today, Tuesday, December 15, laid the Draft Estimates for the year 2021 before the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly as part of the final stage of the annual Budgetary process.
The Draft Estimates allow for the financing of the activities of the State that will bring benefits to the people of St. Kitts and Nevis.
This was followed by the tabling of The Appropriation (2021) Bill, 2020, in which the Team Unity Government is seeking Parliamentary approval for a total of $867,919,842 million dollars for the provision of services for the financial year commencing 1st January, 2021 and ending on 31st December, 2021. Total recurrent, capital and net lending charges against the Consolidated Fund come to $770,136,053 and the total provided by law is $97,783,789.
In his highly anticipated Budget presentation, delivered under the theme “Fortitude During the Pandemic: Resilience, Recovery and Transformation,” Prime Minister Harris said his administration has been careful over the last five years not to impose any new taxes on the people of the Federation.
“This is a remarkable feat. For five years in a row, my Government would have managed this country, fulfilling our mandates and increasing the range of support to the social sectors including education, health, national security, the poor and indigent, our women headed households, and at-risk groups. We have done all these things and more without adding one new tax. Indeed, far from new taxes we have been subtracting, reducing and removing extant taxes. For example, we removed the onerous VAT from food, medicine and educational supplies in 2015…and in the 2021 Budget we have extended the reduction on the applicable rate of corporate income tax and unincorporated tax, reducing them by a significant 24 percent and 50 percent respectively,” Dr. Harris said.
The prime minister continued, “At a time when we could reasonably be asking for shared sacrifices for the greater collective national good by imposing new taxes as some countries have done, my Government prefers to waive them or waive some of them, apply moratoria and reduce others all to help our people and registered businesses successfully overcome the challenges of COVID-19.”
Looking ahead, Prime Minister Harris said his Government is encouraged by the positive economic projections for the Federation in 2021, notwithstanding the significant challenges associated with the ongoing pandemic.
“During the first quarter of 2020 the economy grew by just over 2 percent. The outturn was underpinned by positive growth in agriculture, financial services, transport, storage and communication, wholesale, retail and construction and even tourism was growing in the first quarter of 2020. Then COVID-19 happened and everything else took a nosedive. Our statistics department estimates that the economy of St. Kitts and Nevis is likely to contract by 12.5 percent for 2020. These estimates also project that the economy will rebound in 2021 with a positive growth rate of about 5 percent. These estimates of positive growth rate for St. Kitts and Nevis are broadly consistent in terms of direction with estimates forecast by the ECCB which projects a 6.4 percent growth for St. Kitts and Nevis and the IMF which projects an 8 percent growth for St. Kitts and Nevis,” the prime minister said.
Tuesday’s Budget presentation came during a special Sitting of the National Assembly held at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort Ballroom to accommodate the large number of persons in attendance, while adhering to the strict COVID-19 regulation of physical distancing.
The budget debate will continue on Wednesday, December 16, 2020, at the National Assembly Chambers, Government Headquarters, Basseterre.