CHARLESTOWN, Nevis — Hon. Mark Brantley, Premier of Nevis and Minister of Finance, presented the Nevis Island Administration’s (NIA) $269.95million tax-free budget, when he delivered the 2019 Budget Address in more than two hours at a sitting of the Nevis Island Assembly on Dec. 5.
With the theme “Harnessing the synergies of Innovation and Entrepreneurship while increasing Global Competitiveness to achieve our Socio-economic Goals,” Mr. Brantley said the budget represents an increase of 18.75 percent over the 2018 budget estimates.
“We have allocated the amount of $180.75 million to recurrent spending, an 11.5 percent increase in recurrent spending when compared to the fiscal year 2018.
“This increase is mainly as a result of the need to make a provision in our recurrent budget for Principal Repayment on Treasury Bills held on behalf of the British American Insurance Company. The full amount of these Treasury Bills, amounting to $11.24 million, is due and payable by December 31, 2019,” he said.
Brantley added that provisions for the enhancement of the healthcare system on Nevis are also responsible for the increase.
With regard to revenue collection, the Minister of Finance noted that the administration is projecting to collect $137.78 million in Recurrent Revenue, which is on par with the projected revenue collections for the 2018 fiscal period. He added the administration would aggressively enforce the collection of existing taxes due.
An additional amount of $30 million is expected from revenue generated from Passport Processing Fees under the Citizen by Investment Programme for St. Kitts and Nevis.
The combined total Recurrent Revenue is projected at $167.78 million for the upcoming 2019 fiscal period as compared to $180.75 million in 2018. It represents a deficit on the recurrent budget of $12.97 million.
For Capital Expenditure, $89.20 million has been allocated, which represents a 37.85 percent increase over the allocation for the fiscal year 2018.
The key areas for major allocations are the Office of the Premier – $9.65 million, representing 3.56 percent of the total budget; Ministry of Finance – $92.89 million, representing 34.41 percent of the total budget; Ministry of Communication and Works – $51.44 million, representing 19.06 percent of the total budget; Ministry of Health and Gender Affairs – $37.27 million, representing 13.81 percent of the total budget; Ministry of Education, Library Services and Information Technology – $34.98 million, representing 12.96 percent of the total budget; Ministry of Social Development, Youth and Sports – $21.89 million, representing 8.11 percent of the total budget; Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Housing, Co-operatives and Disaster Management – $10.57 million, representing 4.0 percent of the total budget.
Brantley explained that the increase is largely due to the allocation of funding to complete construction works on the Alexandra Hospital Expansion Project; the completion of works on the Brown Hill Road Rehabilitation Project along with provisions for rehabilitation works on the Island Main Road from Newcastle to Cotton Ground.
Funding for the capital budget will come from loan funding from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), disbursements from the Sugar Industry Diversification Fund (SIDF), the Hurricane Relief Fund, the Sustainable Growth Fund and other grant funding.
In addition, he stated that the administration would seek loan funding from other financial entities at concessionary rates not exceeding 3.5 percent per annum to complete the funding for the capital works.
The NIA has also embarked on what Brantley described as an innovative debt-swapping initiative in which it intends to substitute high cost debt for lower cost debt.