BASSETERRE, ST KITTS, December 15, 2022(Press Secretary’s Office)– Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Honourable Dr. Terrance Drew introduced the Appropriation Bill (2023), 2022, of approximately EC$1.02 billion under the theme: “Towards Our Transformation as a Sustainable Small Island State” during the Sitting of Parliament on Wednesday, 14th December 2022 at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort Ballroom.
In his Budget Address the Prime Minister zeroed in on the seven (7) pillars of commitment to the people of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis that his administration campaigned on during the August 2022 election.
It was announced by the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance that during the first half of 2023, mechanisms will be developed for the design of various programmes identified to support implementation under the umbrella of the seven (7) pillars.
“Some of these initiatives include providing diversified housing solutions such as bundles of building materials targeted at disadvantaged and marginalized youth, introducing a programme to accelerate the pace of the installation of solar panels to help power more homes across the Federation and advance our green energy transition, completing the design for the introduction of universal health insurance for all citizens and residents living in the federation and establishing a framework for the introduction of a low-cost student loan facility to assist more of our young people to pursue undergraduate and graduate studies,” Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Terrance Drew said.
The objectives of these initiatives are to improve the lives of all citizens and build a strong, thriving, diversified and creative economy. Also included within those seven (7) pillars were duty free concessions on all building materials and furniture, and opportunities for economic advancement for small businesses.
The Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Hon. Dr. Terrance Drew stated that “…the newly developed Ministry of Small Business and Entrepreneurship will focus its resources to promote opportunities for economic development through micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. The Ministry will become the primary conduit to provide technical support to the COVID-19 Recovery Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Business Fund established at the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis. In collaboration with its business arm, the Small Business Development Centre, the new Ministry will provide training to our entrepreneurs in business procedures and marketing techniques. As part of its engagement with key stakeholders in the Public and Private Sectors, the Ministry will undertake a robust monitoring and evaluation programme in relation to those businesses which benefit from Government support whether financial or technical.”
In support of these efforts, The Minister of Finance, Hon. Dr. Terrance Drew, announced that capital expenditure totaling EC$250,000 is being proposed as part of the incremental rollout of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Development Project.
In November, three months after taking office, the Hon. Dr. Terrance Drew-led St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) Government established the COVID-19 Recovery Micro, Small, and Medium-Sized Business Support Fund at the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis.
“The primary objective of establishing this Fund is to provide micro, small and medium-sized enterprises with better access to capital to fund business opportunities, innovative projects for business expansion or improvements in operations. It is anticipated that this support will assist recipients to sustain or restart output, operations, employment, improve livelihoods and contribute to the economic recovery in the Federation,” Dr Drew said.
He announced also that his Government has earmarked the sum of EC$20 million to support the development of the Small Business Sector via this initiative.
“In the coming year, we will expand the programme to other financial institutions, particularly, qualifying credit unions that are interested in partnership with the Government in this worthy facet of Nation building,” Dr Drew said.
In addition to the plans for building up the basic infrastructure and housing stock, Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Terrance Drew said his Government intends to implement specific incentive packages that will help to drive construction in the country over the next five (5) years.
“The expansion of the First-Time Homeowners Programme is one of these initiatives. It is important for us to remember that it was a St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party Administration that introduced this Programme in 2011. The Programme has delivered great utility and, to date, because of the innovation of a St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party Administration, over 1,663 homeowners have benefitted from this Programme,” said Prime Minister Drew.
The Prime Minister also announced a further EC$100,000 increase in the duty-free allowance for building materials.
“We know that there are many more of our people who can benefit from this helping hand. Considering the upward movements in the cost of construction, especially in the post-pandemic era, we have determined that the level of duty-free concessions on building materials would be increased from the current allowance of $400,000 to $500,000. This will certainly assist our people who are constructing or renovating their homes to pursue their dreams of home ownership and, at the same time, make their individual contribution to the rebound in the Construction Sector,” said Dr. Drew.
He further added, “In this way, Madam Speaker, persons who can help themselves with the construction of their own home can do so without having to wait on the NHC to do it for them.”