Statement for Financial Information Month Delivered by Dr the Hon Timothy Harris Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Fellow citizens and residents, good day.

The month of October has been designated as Financial Information Month in the eight (8) member states of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU). Financial Information Month is a regional campaign that is geared towards enabling citizens across the region to realize their financial potential throughout their lives.

It is important that Kittitians and Nevisians strive to manage their personal finances successfully. Financial literacy therefore plays a critical role in our decision-making in building strong and resilient households that provide for all family members. It is an important life skill that benefits many individuals in making decisions that are difficult, for example, taking a student loan, buying a car or saving for retirement. It is also becoming increasingly important for our people to learn to develop very early in life basic personal financial skills such as preparing a proper budget and creating a savings plan to support their future endeavours.

The collaborative efforts of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, ECCU Member Governments, financial and academic institutions, the media, other private and public sector institutions and community-based groups have made it possible to arrange the activities for the 2017 Financial Information Month.

The theme for this year is “Retirement Planning: Making Your Golden Years Golden.” The activities will raise awareness about the financial planning tools available to help people to plan for the best retirement so that they can enjoy a good quality of life during their Golden Years.

The ideal time to start preparing for retirement is the day one begins working, and not one year or 5 years prior to retirement. We will host a range of activities for young people. One of the main features will be a Financial and Business Primary School Quiz where students will be given the opportunity to showcase their knowledge at the national level. Students will also be exposed to the Smart Finance App Challenge that will provide easy-to-use budgeting and financial education. They will also have the opportunity to participate in the Young Investor Creative Expressions Video Contest targeted for age 20 – 35 where they will be allowed to create and develop a video under the theme “Invest in You.”

It is hoped that these activities geared towards the Youth will help to stimulate and develop their understanding while providing a holistic view of financial planning in their household and community. Our Youth makes up 47% of our population and must be made aware of everyday financial and business issues that are important for their overall development. We must become investment savvy at all levels and from an early age.

A Financial Information Month must not be restricted to a few sectors, but must also embrace the business and wider community. This year, several Community Outreach Programmes have been organized, including a Retirement Planning Symposium that will address topics such as:

• Making the Transition from Work to Retirement
• Wills and Estate Planning: Protecting Your Loved Ones and Your Inheritance
• Financial Planning: Creating, Growing and Protecting Your Wealth

This symposium is intended to target employed individuals in the public and private sector, including self-employed, and medium-to-small businesses that are often overlooked, for example, hairdressers, barbers, vendors, bakers, tour operators, fisherfolks and farmers. You all play an integral role in the economy, and must not be intimidated by financial planning but step out bravely and embrace these opportunities that can be drawn from a heightened level of financial literacy. Do not consider yourself too small to explore investment plans, as retirement is a reality that must be faced by one and all. It is our hope that this year’s Financial Information Month would have an impact on all residents, no matter where they are located in the various communities on St. Kitts and Nevis.

I urge you to take advantage of the Financial Fair where Partners will display their goods and services to the public and assist individuals to make informed decisions for a successful Retirement Plan. A Fund Raiser will be held, and funds collected will be donated to selected enterprising micro business owners as seed capital to purchase equipment to enhance business productivity. Also taking place is a Charity Outreach Initiative where care packages will be delivered to individuals and families who are in need throughout the Federation.

The media will play an important part in getting the message out. To this end, there will be Video interviews examining focused areas in retirement planning, including debt and risk management, saving, investment, and insurance. These will be made available via ECCB’s (Eastern Caribbean Central Bank) YouTube channel and Facebook page.

The age of information has created more desirable standards of living, and given the longevity of life due to advancement in healthcare, the nature of retirement is changing. Many workers prefer a phased retirement where they can ease into retirement, and not experience a sudden end to work. These changes demand an early review of retirement plans and the options that are available.

I am proud to say that the Team Unity Administration will make tangible efforts to embrace all public workers including non-established and auxiliary workers by ensuring that they are empowered with the appropriate provision for pension plans. In this regard, my administration has established a Committee to advise on how we can proceed to empower our non-established and auxiliary workers.

We similarly look to the business sector to empower their employees with the establishment of pension plans and to ensure that they are similarly well informed.

No two persons desire the same form of retirement, but all need financial plans to achieve their goals. I further encourage you to apply a steady, consistent and determined approach beyond Financial Information Month in securing a good retirement plan. All options must be explored including Social Security, Insurance, and Savings, as pensions alone may not be sufficient for the level of comfort that some persons may wish to enjoy in their Golden Years. Now is therefore a good time to ask those essential questions such as when do I want to stop working? Do I have enough money set aside? Am I financially and mentally prepared for retirement?

I challenge you to make that critical decision, asking yourselves ‘Where am I now? Where would I like to be?’ And plan a way to get there. Citizens and residents, commence the process in “Making Your Golden Years Golden.”

With this undertaking, it gives me great pleasure to declare the official start of the 2017 Financial Information Month.

I thank you.

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