BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, October 22, 2020 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – The Cabinet of St. Kitts and Nevis wrapped up four days of fruitful discussions with senior level Government officials as part of the Budget Estimates Committee Meetings, which is a critical step in the process leading up to the finalization of the National Budget for the upcoming financial year.
Overthe four-day period, permanent secretaries and heads of departments accounted for the operations of their respective ministries over the last fiscal year and gave their projections and plans for the 2021 financial year.
Forseveral Government ministers, it is their first time participating in the budgetary process at the Federal level. One such minister is the Honourable Akilah Byron-Nisbett, Minister of Health, ICT, Entertainment, Entrepreneurship and Talent Development, who said this experience has given her a better understanding and appreciation of the work that goes into the preparation of the annual budget.
“For me it was an eye-opener because previously as senator and Deputy Speaker I would see the budget when it is ready to be presented which is after it has already gone through these stages, so now I have a better appreciation of what goes into getting it to that next step. I know after the committee sessions we will have another set of sessions with our budget analysts and Financial Secretary so that we will be able to make sure that we fine-tune some of those key areas. But now I understand the entire process from beginning to end and it helps me to also be able to prepare for next year’s budget session,” the honourable minister said.
Likewise, it is the first Federal budget experience for the Honourable Eric Evelyn, Minister of Environment and Cooperatives.
MinisterEvelyn said, “It was a good experience. This was a good opportunity for me as the Minister of Environment and Cooperatives to be aware of what is happening and what would be proposed in the other ministries and so you get an overall picture as to where we go in terms of the Federal Budget for 2021. Of course we know that we are in the middle of a pandemic and so everything has to be cut back, and so it gave me a very good appreciation of what the process is all about and I think it was a very worthwhile experience and I am very happy that I was able to come to all of the sessions so I was able to get a good overall picture of what is taking place in the Federal Government.”
Anothernew face throughout the Federal budget process is that of Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Marine Resources, the Honourable Alexis Jeffers.
Commentingon the process, Minister Jeffers said the Federal experience differs greatly from that of the Nevis Island Administration.
“I would say that this type of experience we have not been exposed to before in terms of all ministers fully participating in the process. At least what I have been exposed to before is that as the minister of whatever particular ministries/portfolios I would show up for those discussions and participate, but I’ve been able to participate fully in all of the different discussions. All of the different ministries that have come I’ve been able to hear from them and gauge as to what will be happening over the next financial cycle and that is a good thing because of course it gives you an idea as to what you should be doing in yours to complement the others who we all try to work together with. But overall, this has been fulfilling and it’s certainly one that I would use as the platform to build on moving forward,” Minister Jeffers stated.
Nowthat the Budget Estimates Committee Meetings have concluded, the Ministry of Finance will now fine-tune the Budget Estimates and present them to the Federal Cabinet for further review.
Thefinal exercise will be the preparation of draft estimates and the Budget Address for presentation by Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, in his capacity as Minister of Finance, for final action to be taken by the Federal Parliament.