CHARLESTOWN, Nevis — The Nevis Island Administration (NIA) will take a number of fiscal measures in 2021, focussing on rebuilding the island’s economy in the post COVID-19 era, with emphasis on the general health and wellbeing of the people of Nevis.
Hon. Mark Brantley, Premier of Nevis and Minister of Finance listed the planned measures when he delivered the 2021 Budget Address at a sitting of the Nevis Island Assembly on December 8.
“We will continue to extend our existing fiscal incentive programmes such as the first-time home owner’s programme, which is designed to stimulate growth in the construction sector, our programme for concessions for start-up businesses entities along with our programme for concessions for entities operating in the tourism sector.
“The concession package extends to our returning nationals and our programme to facilitate the movement of skilled persons into our island will continue,” he said.
The Minister of Finance expressed hope that persons benefitting from the concession package will seize the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to the growth and development of Nevis.
Brantley pointed to the NIA’s plans to extend its COVID-19 Relief Construction Stimulus package for three more months to March 31.
The stimulus programme was implemented in September 2020 to provide relief for residents undertaking any form of construction activity, and to compliment the ongoing First-time Homeowners Programme. If materials cost in excess of $30,000, under the stimulus programme, only the 17 percent Value Added Tax would be paid.
The NIA’s policy of the waiver of Alien Landholding Licence Fees will also be extended for an additional three months to March 31, 2021.
It was initially implemented in September 2020 to provide a waiver for the payment of the Alien Landholding License Fee for all non-nationals wishing to purchase existing properties, specifically land and building; however, it is not applicable to the purchase of undeveloped land only.
The Minister of Finance noted that after consultation with realtors on Nevis and in an effort to expedite sales of existing properties, approval was granted for purchases of any existing properties in excess of US400, 000 to qualify for citizenship under the Citizenship by Investment Programme in St. Kitts and Nevis.
He said it is hoped that the measures he outlined would stimulate activities in the real estate and construction sectors, and provide employment.
Brantley stated that steps to boost growth of revenue, the NIA would continuously review and amend the existing schedule of fees to ensure that they are at a level comparable to the cost of delivering the associated services on the island.
“To this end our Cabinet has approved the following measures:
“The implementation of an increase in the fee structure for all service provided at our Financial Services Registry,” said Hon. Brantley. “Additionally, there will be an increase in the Annual Licensing Fee for all Service Providers as well. This new fee structure will take effect from 1st July, 2021, will be finalised and communicated to service Providers in January 2021.
“The implementation of a new schedule of fees for services provided at the Alexandra Hospital. Every effort will be made to ensure that the most vulnerable are not disadvantaged or denied access to any of these critical services. If persons lack the resources to pay the full price for these services, special arrangements will apply,” he said.
“There will also be an increase in the monthly payable for the Solid Waste Disposal Levy from April 1st, 2021 to $25.00 for domestic customers and $75.00 for small business operators, in addition to a 20 percent increase in the tipping fees payable for the disposal of waste at the Solid Waste Disposal Site.
“The NIA will also take measures to strengthen its tax collection policies; continue to streamline its policy for tax concession; discontinue the random policy of granting duty free concessions on vehicles; and strengthen the property tax collection framework.”
Regarding its operations, Brantley explained that as an initial short-term measure, the Cabinet of the NIA decided to implement short-term expenditure reduction measures effective January 1, 2021.
“The temporary suspension of overseas travel for all public servants, including Members of Cabinet, unless these travels are fully funded by third parties; the reduction of the monthly Travel Allowance payable to all public servants including Members of Cabinet by 50 percent; the temporary suspension of payment of increments to all civil servants; and the deferral of any request for promotion of officers or upgrade in their salaries and wages. In addition, we defer the employment of any new officers to the Public Service,” he said.
The Premier stated that the short-term measures would have an immediate impact on the NIA’s fixed monthly commitments, bringing them within reasonable limits as the Administration awaits the economy’s recovery in the main sectors including tourism.