CHARLESTOWN, Nevis — Hon. Mark Brantley, Premier of Nevis and Minister of Finance in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) is crediting strong leadership for ensuring Nevis’ survival amid the financial crisis brought on by the COVI-19 pandemic.
During a recent edition of Government at Work, the Premier commended all who contributed to keeping the island’s economy afloat over the past several months.
“I think this pandemic has tested leaders throughout the world, Nevis is no different, in a very serious way,” said the Premier. “The fact that we are having this conversation in November and Nevis is still standing, I think is testimony to the strength of the leadership that we’ve had in Nevis at all levels, not just from my office, but also members of Cabinet, various government and related agencies, and those in the private sector as well.
“It’s been an all society approach, all hands on deck, and I’m quite proud of what our little island has been able to accomplish thus far.”
Brantley said that the NIA 2021 budget, slated to be delivered in the Nevis Island Assembly on December 8, will reflect the financial challenges the government continues to grapple with in the face of the extended shut down of the island’s main revenue source, tourism.
“I have said to the team on Nevis, we have to be realistic. I think the thing about the budgetary process this year, it has to have a heavy dose of realism, it has to have heavy dose of practical approach to budgeting.
“There are certain areas that we can’t do much about in terms of our recurrent expenditure,” said Brantley. “We’re seeking to do our very best to hold cost to a minimum, to save where we can save, and to send a very clear message to our people that this is a very difficult period in which we find ourselves.”
The Premier appealed to the general public to be cognizant of the seriousness of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the government’s finances and its ability to carry out its day-to-day operations.
“People do not appear to recognize the serious situation in which we find ourselves as an island, and the struggle we’ve had, not to do like others have done elsewhere to retrench workers and lay off workers.
“I mean right here in the Caribbean we have examples of workers being paid partially and not being able to get their full salaries.
“Here on Nevis we’ve paid everybody,” explained Brantley. “Everybody has gotten their salary as normal, and I’m saying to our people that it is time we consider that this is an unusual and unprecedented period that we have entered and all of us will be required to make some sacrifice.”
Against the backdrop of a salary cut for Cabinet members and the Premier forgoing his salary and benefits since March 2020, the Premier stressed that his Cabinet will continue to ‘lead from the front’ with further acts of self-sacrifice.
“When the budget comes around we’ll hear about other measures that we’re seeking to take, again demonstrating the type of leadership the country requires in a time of crisis that is leadership from the front,” explained Brantley.
He said while the business community will be anxious to know what the NIA is proposing to do to try to recover and deal with the crisis, business operators could rest assured that the government is prepared to partner with them to generate greater business and employment.
“The thing that Nevis needs now more than anything is employment,” said Brantley. “We need to get our people back to work. Our hotel sector has restarted in some way but we understand the difficulties there and that the demand for travel now may not be what we would like it to be. That will be a process.
“We’re hearing more and more about a vaccine being developed and when that happens we hope that may ease in terms of our travel restrictions,” concluded Brantley. “For now, it’s important that each of us plays our part, from the little business that employs one person, to the big business that employs 100 people, we need them all working together to get us beyond this crisis.”