PM Harris expresses confidence in local entities funding St. Kitt’s second cruise pier
From the press unit in the Office of the Prime Minister
Basseterre, St. Kitts – The Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis the Honourable Dr. Timothy Harris said his Team Unity administration is fully supportive of the local entities that have come on board to jointly fund the construction of the USD$48 million second cruise pier at Port Zante.
During a contract signing ceremony between the St. Christopher Air and Sea Ports Authority (SCASPA) and the prime contractor, Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC), it was revealed that a syndicate arrangement between four local entities was chosen to undertake this project.
The four financial players involved are the St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank (SKNANB), which has committed US$34 million; the St. Kitts and Nevis Social Security Board, which has pledged US$7 million; the St. Kitts and Nevis Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation (SIDF), with US$5 million; and the St. Kitts and Nevis Trading and Development Company (TDC), which has committed another US$2 million.
Responding to a question posed by a reporter at his press conference on Wednesday about the financing arrangements for this project, Prime Minister Harris said his government has every confidence in all the entities that have come on board to partner on this development. “The effort at bringing on board a number of players locally to participate is the right one,” Harris said. “It is the right one that has the support of every thinking person [who] evaluated the proposal, so the government feels absolutely comfortable that this pier is going to start [and] the transformation … it will bring to the country will be applauded by all.”
Harris, who is also the minister of finance, further stated that the project is being funded by “credible institutions” with their own capacity to evaluate risks.
“TDC is participating,” he said. “Are we then saying that the directorship of TDC does not have the competence as one of the largest entities in the federation to do an appropriate analysis with respect to its participation in the cruise pier? I would doubt that we would want to say that. Are we saying that the Social Security, which is the largest entity financial wise in the country, does not have on its board and its high management the kind of support staff and the benefit of actuarial support to make determinations on its investments? Are we forgetting that the actuarial report also encourage the Social Security to diversify its portfolio of investment and to find profitable avenues for doing so?”
Prime Minister Harris continued, “Are we then going to say that…the National Bank, the largest bank in the OECS, with some of the top professionals anywhere in the world and with the ability to purchase professional support with regards to its own endeavours, could not competently make a decision with regards to risks? I think when we look at the broad network of entities involved…it speaks to the fact that they see a profitable undertaking.”
The prime minister noted that the recent boom in cruise ship calls and passenger arrivals are indicative of the need for expansion at Port Zante, noting that the second pier is “perhaps one of the best investments that is being made in St. Kitts and Nevis. When you look at the outstanding numbers that are being recorded for cruise tourism, you know that the future for cruise tourism in St. Kitts and Nevis is very bright. Who would not want to cash in on that?” Dr. Harris questioned.
For the 2017-2018 season, St. Kitts and Nevis is projected to receive a total of 569 cruise ship calls, bringing with them more than 1.5 million passengers. This represents a record for the twin-island federation.
Work on the second cruise pier project is set to start by the end of the first quarter of 2018. The construction of the pier is expected to be completed within 18 months, in time for the 2019 cruise season.