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Speaking at the National Consultation on the Economy, Prime Minister Harris said “For 2016, St Kitts and Nevis is projected again to be among the best performing countries in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) and CARICOM (Caribbean Community) Member States.”
“While we are projecting a growth rate of 3 percent, countries such as the USA and Canada are recording growth rates in 2016 of 2.2 percent and 1.4 percent respectively. The ECCU as a whole is projecting a growth rate well under 3 percent. There is no doubt that St Kitts and Nevis is moving in the right direction,” he added.
However, the Minister of Finance noted that although the country is progressing well, there is still a lot more to be done in order to bring about a better quality of life, higher paying jobs and more entrepreneurial opportunities for the young men and women in St Kitts and Nevis who want to see progress in their lives.
“We know there are many young people who want to make it on the straight and narrow way, and who want to make it by fair and honest means,” said Prime Minister Harris. “That is why we introduced the FRESH Start loan programme to provide affordable financing to SMEs (Small and Medium Sized Enterprises). During the course of this quarter, we expect that a further $30 million will be raised by the Development Bank to continue the programme. This will be the largest tranche of support ever targeted to SMEs at any period.”
Dr. Harris highlighted that it is imperative to develop a buffer that gives resilience and sustainability. Equally important, he said, is the ability to invest in “key sectors that have a transformative impact on the quality of lives of residents, citizens and businesses”.
This year’s National Consultation on the Economy of St. Kitts and Nevis, which is spearheaded by the Ministry of Finance, saw a different approach on Wednesday, September 28, at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort, as it focused on listening to inputs from several social and economic partners from the public and private sector, and civil society.
The prime minister explained the format of this year’s discussions which were held under the theme “Working Together – Accelerating Growth and Building Resilience”.
“We are doing things differently this year in order to reflect our belief in participatory government,” said Dr. Harris. “We want to increase the level of input that our key stakeholders have in driving the prosperity of the Federation. We value your views and we are also keen to hear about how, through partnership and innovation, we can make the best of our limited financial resources in order to achieve the greatest impact.”
The National Consultation on the Economy took a different focus this year by listening to the inputs from several social and economic partners from the public sector, private sector and civil society, who benefited from small group discussions with a facilitator and a rapporteur, according to Deputy Financial Secretary, Mr. Calvin Edwards, who gave opening remarks at the Consultation.
“Each group would be led by a facilitator, and a rapporteur will report back to the plenary session. We feel that this format will lend itself to input from people rather than lecturing to them,” Mr. Edwards said.