By Loshaun Dixon
With a general election looming, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis Dr. Timothy Harris had defended the government’s stimulus package in response to COVID-19 labelling it remarkable.
Dr. Harris appearing on radio Saturday said the stimulus package has been intended to cater to those who were hardest hit by the pandemic and attempt to ensure that they were not standing alone. “That their government and the broader public sector stood with them and helped them through the difficult times,” Harris said.
He praised the role of Social Security who has provided up to $1000 monthly to those whose livelihoods were affected by the pandemic.
“Social security has stood up and stood out and as part of our all of society approach has come forward and provided a significant portion of support to those who are suffering.”
Dr. Harris, comparing his administration’s response to others around the region said that his government had provided the strongest package.”We marvel how lucky we are that the smallest country again in the hemisphere seems to be doing most.”
He said the government was able to deliver on the stimulus because they had been very careful in the management of economic and fiscal affairs and controlled spending despite delivering surpluses year after year.
“Had we done this and that truth be told today we would not be in the position we are with the strongest capacity to respond on our own.
“Some countries in the region were not able to offer a stimulus package because there is no money in the kitty at this time.”
The prime minister said the government had been planning for the potential of a calamity affecting the federation.
“We observe the long-standing value we have to put something aside for the rainy day. It ultimately comes and, in this case, it has come in a significant and destabilizing manner.”
He also looks back at the financial achievements that led to them being able to provide economic stimulus.
“We could respond because over the last five years we were able to bring our debt to GDP ratio to the lowest and the first in the sub region to bring our debt to GDP ratio to the international benchmark of 60 percent.
“We did all of these things having paid off the IMF debt 117M left behind by the previous administration and having done that we were able to obtain sovereign control over our fiscal affairs.”
He also noted that the social security here is one of the largest in terms of its reserve.