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St Kitts & Nevis Prime Minister Drew Sees Need for More Diverse Economy

Prime Minister Dr. Terrance Drew.
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Basseterre, Dec. 21, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — St Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister, Dr Terrance Drew, recently delivered his first Budget Address under the theme “Towards Our Transformation as a Sustainable Small Island State”.

During his speech he highlighted six major sectors for diversification and growth opportunities.

The six sectors are:

  • Citizenship by Investment Programme
  • Agriculture
  • Medicinal Cannabis Industry
  • Construction
  • Tourism
  • Manufacturing

The new administration is determined to support the growth and development of the nation, said the Prime Minister. “Our government has adopted a clear agenda to transform St Kitts and Nevis into a sustainable island state. Our Sustainable Island State Agenda is founded on seven (7) key pillars which include Food for Security, Green Energy Transition, Economic Diversification, Sustainable Industries, the Creative Economy, COVID-19 recovery and Social Protection. In this context, over the next 12 months, our government will use the 2023 Estimates as a vehicle to vigorously pursue a number of policies, programmes and projects that would allow us to achieve some of the important objectives that will help us to move forward with our agenda to make St Kitts and Nevis a better place to live, work and visit.”

Citizenship by Investment Programme

Being the pioneer in the global investor immigration industry for nearly 40 years, the government of St Kitts and Nevis is enhancing and strengthening its Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programme.

“We are seeking to ensure that our CBI Programme is mutually beneficial for all stakeholders, the people of St Kitts and Nevis, investors, developers, local service providers, and international marketing agents, added the Prime Minister.

From the revenues forecasted for the CBI Programme over the next few months, the government aims to create a Sovereign Wealth Fund that will be used to safely invest in international markets and industries over the long term. Through legislative measures, the fund will only be accessed for emergencies such as natural disaster responses and not for addressing recurrent expenses. Funds from the CBI Programme will also be used to diversify the local economy, specifically through entrepreneurship programmes, sustainable work opportunities and homeownership.

“Our prudent government will use CBI revenues to improve our healthcare, social services, energy infrastructure and water security. In 2023 and beyond, our CBI Programme’s profits will work for all Kittitians and Nevisians,” announced the Prime Minister.

“Our citizenship is precious, therefore the evolved CBI Programme will invite bold and creative top-notch investors to our shores who will develop innovative industries in St Kitts and Nevis, the construction of real estate developments pursuant to our government’s priority infrastructure list, and in all things, bring substantial benefit to the people of St Christopher and Nevis.”

Agriculture

Food security is considered a high priority in the government’s Sustainable Island State agenda and has significant links to the expansion of its manufacturing sector and the creation of sustainable livelihoods.

“Our government is committed to modernizing the agriculture sector and bringing it into the 21st century. This is a critical part of our thrust for reimagining our development to build a sustainable island state,” continued the Prime Minister.

Over the last four months, the new administration has focused on activities geared towards deepening climate-smart agricultural practices and promoting sustainable agriculture. Over the next five years, the administration hopes to achieve its goal of significantly increasing the production and manufacturing of agricultural products by introducing and scaling up the use of technology and innovative techniques. Initiatives include the increase of production and export of marine products, the improvement of agricultural product standards and international marketability, and the allocation of EC$17.0 million to facilitate Recurrent Expenditure to promote capacity-building in the agricultural sector. This allocation represents a 20.4 percent increase when compared to the 2022 estimates.

Medicinal Cannabis

A revamped Medicinal Cannabis Authority has been established to regulate the Medicinal Cannabis Industry in St Kitts and Nevis. The aim of the authority will be to provide a medical, therapeutic and scientific cannabis industry that creates equal opportunities, enables people’s health and wellness with safe and diverse products, fosters investor confidence and strengthens the St Kitts and Nevis economy through an effective regulatory framework.

“Our St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party Administration has chosen to take a more responsible and citizen-friendly approach of first researching and then selecting a unique set of policies to govern this new industry. Understanding the policy ecosystem is critical to how we will control and conduct operations in this new niche including, but not limited to, the application of licenses, social equity models, and more. Beyond policy, it is also critical to engage with the people and assess the gap between public expectations and industry deliverables,” said Minister Drew.

Construction

Following an estimated decline in the construction sector of 1.5 percent with over 20 percent in job losses recorded in July 2022 when compared to the same period in 2021, the new administration is prioritising plans to foster employment gains and increase growth in the sector. The expansion of infrastructure development is an important part of this plan and in the coming year, the government will initiate the construction of the Renaissance Housing Programme.

Under the Renaissance Housing Programme the government aims to construct 2,000 energy efficient homes over the next five years. The National Housing Corporation (NHC) will commence the first phase of building in the first quarter of 2023 with the construction of 100 homes.

Over the coming year the NHC will also restart the West Street Housing Project to provide much-needed housing for 15 families. The building of homes for 2,500 landowners will also be facilitated through the building assistance program of the NHC, in partnership with the St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank.

“We are well aware that roads are the arteries through which economic development, growth and social function are dispensed. As such, this Government with the assistance of the Public Works and Lands and Survey Departments will, in the coming year, commence the design and construction of roads in residential developments that have yet to benefit from adequate road infrastructure, such as those developments under the Special Land Distribution Initiative,” said the Prime Minister.

Tourism

Following the decline of the tourism industry by 63.1 percent and 17.6 percent in 2020 and 2021, respectively, the new administration saw a need to refresh the country’s product and service offerings. The St Kitts Tourism Authority embarked on a campaign to generate demand and highlight the unique qualities of the destination. The new brand campaign, “Venture Deeper”, debuted in September this year.

“The campaign builds on our island’s distinctive characteristics while introducing elements of introspective self-discovery that reflect the purpose-driven goals of today’s travellers. Venture Deeper is designed to evoke, within the traveller, a desire to ‘peel back’ our layers and discover the true essence of the destination. We believe that, in doing so, more of our stakeholders can have interactions with our visitors leading to greater economic impact. Our focus must now shift from a tunnel vision of solely looking at arrival numbers to also looking at how we can increase our visitor spend. Our objective must be to offer competitive products and services and to do so in a manner that maintains the highest standards and puts the greatest amount of money in the pockets of our people. We have put our people back to work and are focusing attention on the areas that will expand opportunities for sustained employment in the years to come,” noted Prime Minister Drew.

The government will also focus on improving air travel routes, infrastructure and pricing. Plans to upgrade the Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport are in place. The 2023 government estimates that the proposed budget to support the Ministry of Tourism, Civil Aviation and International Transport is EC$27.0 million for Recurrent Expenditure. The Prime Minister added, “These resources would be used to further enhance and diversify tourism products particularly as it relates to the development of increased facilitation of community destination tourism. In support of the product development and airlift efforts, a Capital Budget totalling EC$17.6 million is proposed of which EC$8.0 million has been allocated to enable us to attract new airlift into the Federation.”

ManufacturEEE

According to the new administration, manufacturing is regarded as a vehicle for transforming the local economy, creating sustainable jobs and serves as a credible source for earning critical foreign exchange. To revive the sector, the new administration has recently endorsed the updated version of the National Manufacturing Strategy 2022-2027. The strategy has renewed focus on improving the business environment and increasing the competitiveness of manufacturing operations in the Federation. The government aims to establish at least one additional manufacturing business in the federation and is targeting at least one factory to build solar panels that could provide easy access to low-cost energy saving options for residents. There are also ongoing efforts to strengthen the national Bureau of Standards to provide additional support to the manufacturing sector. “The proposed 2023 Estimates will ensure that upgrades to the Bureau of Standards continue to strengthen the quality assurance mechanisms needed for our farmers and other producers to export products regionally and internationally,” said the Prime Minister.

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