Nevis’ economy has performed well and according to Hon Vance Amory, Premier of Nevis and Minister of Finance in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA), indicators pointed to continued growth by the end of 2006 and 2007.
The disclosure came during a press conference on Tuesday May 30, 2006, at the Government House conference room at the Bath Hotel. He said the International Monetary Fund had indicated that Nevis’ economy would see an added five percent in 2006.
Mr Amory attributed the buoyant economy to the steady increase in economic activity and the provision of jobs as a result of the Concerned Citizens Movement government’s policy to broaden the economic base and to create opportunities for investment by local and foreign sources.
He said the construction industry on Nevis offered ample evidence of the buoyancy of the Nevis economy when one considered the number of private homes and commercial buildings that have and continue to be constructed.
“The fact that the government itself has become involved in the provision of affordable housing and we can look at the Bath, Hard Times, New River and the Rawlins Pasture Housing Projects as areas which are tangible evidence of the expansion in the housing sector under the Nevis Land and Housing Development on the insistence of the Nevis Island Government headed by the CCM Party,” he said also pointing to the significant construction ongoing in the expanding tourism industry.
Mr Amory spoke of the expansion of the tourism industry which he credited to a strategic marketing policy which the CCM had instituted when it took office in 1992. The policy he said had created a greater interest in Nevis, thereby increasing the number of visitors to Nevis.
He also looked at the expansion of the Nevis Financial Services Industry which at present created financial services products beyond the incorporation of companies to include the establishment of trusts, the international insurance and reinsurance, international banking and the creation of legislation to provide for the formation of foundations and limited liability companies.
He said the all important move to eradicate the monopoly of one agent which existed when the CCM led Administration took up office in 1992, had effected a culture which now engaged over 50 registered agents and entities and had created employment at good salary levels and a demand for office space which in turn had created significant investment and earning opportunity for local property owners.
According to Mr Amory, most of the agents are local persons who were encouraged to take advantage of the opportunities in an industry which had since become very lucrative for them and for government and had generated in excess of $10million annually to the economy which has created a “very strong impetus” for the growth of the Nevis economy.
The tourism industry he said had been established as Nevis’ main industry and he expected continued growth of the sector which would fuel the economic growth of Nevis.
The vibrancy of the agriculture sector on Nevis, Mr Amory said, was also responsible for providing employment for at least 603 persons.
“It is clear to see the growth in the agriculture sector and to see the improvement in the quality of products and the interest which has been generated and I daresay there is a rekindling of a dynamic in this industry here in Nevis,” he said.
The Premier mentioned the evolution of a thriving cottage industry, evident throughout the island and the revitalisation of the Craft House which had led the charge for the provision and production of craft for sale to locals and visitors.
To facilitate development in the small business sector, he said the establishment of the Small Enterprise Development Unit and the Special Small Business Enterprise Fund which the Government established at the Nevis Cooperative Credit Union, financed small and micro businesses owned by locals at lower than commercial rates, had created a growth in the small business sector which also helped to fuel the development of the economy of Nevis.
Regarding the island’s infrastructure, Mr Amoy said though there was significant upgrades to be done to the Webbes Ground, Jessups and Barnes Ghaut roads and the final phase of the Island Main Road, the CCM government had done very significant upgrades to all the physical and social infrastructure of Nevis including the airport, seaports and the completion of two thirds of the Island Main Road.
He gave assurances that the government had a structured plan in place to systematically complete the physical infrastructure in Nevis and noted that the health facilities, senior citizens complex, schools, community centres which have been constructed and situated in areas where the people of Nevis could benefit from them.
“I think the government has responded very adequately to the demands of the people over the last five years, even though we have had to contend with the difficulties of hurricanes and floods which caused additional expenditure, some of it unforeseen and also government to forgo revenue,” he said.
In the area of human resources development, Mr Amory said much praise had been received particularly as the government had continued to provide a broad base education to the people of Nevis.
In the schools he explained, provision is made for the academic, technical, social and cultural development to ensure that Nevis’ children and its people generally, received the opportunities to empower themselves for employment and for other educational advancement.
Employment on Nevis has been on the increase and Premier of Nevis Hon Vance Amory credits the island’s dynamic economy with activity in all sectors for the significant increase since the Concerned Citizens Movement led Nevis Island Administration took office in 1992.
“In 1992 the level of employment in Nevis was in the region of 3,300 registered employees. At the end of 2005 the number of recorded employees with the Labour Department was 5,706,” he said.
According to Mr Amory, the statistics of registered employees from the Labour Department confirm that there are 603 persons work in the Agriculture sector; 462 in the commercial sector; 814 in the Construction sector, 1,133 in hotel and guesthouses; 141 in restaurants, and 388 in the financial services and 278 in the financial sector including banks and some aspects of the financial services.
Mr Amory who is also Finance Minister disclosed that the Treasury had collected $94.6 million in annual revenue at the end of 2005 compared to $59.8 million at the end of 2001 due to growing employment and economic activity on Nevis was a reflection that there has been movement in all sectors on the island.
“These [statistics] are actual annual revenue receipts: for 2001 the annual recurrent revenue to government was $59.8 million; in 2002 $64.3 million an increase of 7.5percent in 2003 $65.5million and increase of 1.8 percent; in 2004 $78.4 million, an increase of 19.6percent almost 20 percent increase and at the end of 2005 the annual revenue received by government was $94.6 million and increase over 2004 of 20.6 percent.
“That is a significant piece of information because while we are hearing that nothing is happening in the country, we are looking at increasing revenue, we are looking at increase in employment, we are looking at increase in activity in the economy generally, we are looking at improvements and people who are doing tertiary level training and those numbers are increasing,” he said.
Regarding non nationals who are employed on Nevis, Mr Amory said at the end of 2005 912 work permits had been issued to non nationals including the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Europe and Africa.
Mr Amory said the fact that many foreigners were coming to work in Nevis told a story but urged Nevisians to take advantage of the opportunities the CCM led Administration had provided for them.
“People of other countries are coming here to Nevis looking for opportunities and it also says to me that persons in Nevis who claim that they can’t find opportunities for work may not be telling the whole truth. Based on the figures, we know the unemployment level in Nevis is very low, that people who are available to work the numbers are very; low and that is why this [work permits] number is really so high
“With the CARICOM Single Market and Economy more [foreign workers] is a possibility and I am sure people will come, once the freedom of movement of people becomes broader The one thing which is important is that people will come if they are looking for an opportunity and it is for our own people to make sure that we take advantage of the opportunities which are provided here for them so that they do not feel threatened by persons coming from outside of Nevis,” he said.