CHARLESTOWN, Nevis –- The Nevis government is committed to paying workers’ salaries, even as it undertakes expenditure cutbacks, according to Hon. Mark Brantley, Premier of Nevis and Minister of Finance in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA).
Brantley noted that for several months, the COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted the Nevis economy, due to the shutdown of tourism, the island’s main revenue and employment engine. Despite a significant drop in the NIA’s revenue, paying civil servants remains its priority with respect to allocation of limited resources.
“Our revenue continues to plummet and these months have not been easy,” said Hon. Brantley. “I believe the good people in the Ministry of Finance will say that every month, that is the first question, ‘Are we able to satisfy our obligations to our workers?’ Once that is done, we then look at other things.
“We are grateful to God that we have thus far been able to maintain that commitment, but we continue to look to see what we can do to curb and control expenditure,” he said.
Premier Brantley outlined some of the cutbacks initiated by the NIA to ensure that its salary obligations are met.
“Revenues are simply not what we are accustomed to, and so this has forced us to look at expenditure to determine where savings can be achieved. We have already revisited some contractual arrangements to streamline the scope of regular payments from the Treasury.
“We have also, with immediate effect, directed that all overtime has to cease until we have an improvement in our financial condition,” said Brantley. “Third party arrangements with trucks, heavy equipment, and other such rentals will also be looked at and be subject to review.”
The Premier indicated that the financial difficulties being experienced by government as well as households call for collective belt tightening until the economy improves.
Against that backdrop, Mr. Brantley said his government is looking forward to the proposed re-opening of St. Kitts and Nevis’ borders, and the resumption of commercial travel and tourism activity.