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BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, October 20, 2020 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – The annual Budget Estimates Committee Meetings that are designed to help shape the Budget for the upcoming financial year, January 01 to December 31, continued today (Tuesday, October 20) with presentations from various Ministries and their related departments.

Amongthe ministries that presented before the Federal Cabinet was the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Marine Resources. The presentation was led by Permanent Secretary, Mr. Ron Collins, supported by the Director of Marine Resources, Mr. Marc Williams.

PermanentSecretary Collins commented afterwards that they remain optimistic about the future of agriculture in the Federation and is confident that with the assistance of local farmers and fishers a significant increase in production can be realised. 

“One of the things that we would have focused on during the presentation of our Budget Estimates is the increase in local production – crop production, livestock production and also fisheries. So we are seeking to do more in the sector and to decrease the import bill right across the sector, and to provide the kind of support that is needed to the farmers, the fishermen and so on to make sure that they can make this happen in partnership with us,” Mr. Collins said.

Mr. Collins further noted that in every aspect “the sector looks promising because of the commitment that is there right now [and] the motivation that came from the COVID situation and so the sector looks bright with lots of potential.”

ThePermanent Secretary said he was also pleased with the discussions during the Budget Estimates meeting and the subsequent commitment made by the Government to support the ministry’s proposals going forward.

Aspart of its effort to boost production in the Federation, the St. Kitts and Nevis Government committed $10 million of the $120-million COVID-19 stimulus package to the Ministry of Agriculture. 

Thisresulted in the provision of financial grants, free seeds and seedlings, and the allocation of additional lands for farming. Additionally, more than 200 fishermen have benefited from the provision of fish trap wire, fishing line, hooks, rope, buoys and safety equipment.

TheBudget Estimates Committee Meetings are expected to continue on Wednesday (October 21) with presentations from the Ministries of Entrepreneurship and Communication, Environment and Cooperative, Youth, Sport and Culture, and Health among others. 

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