LONDON, Oct. 26, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Last week, the Prime Minister of the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis made several announcements with regards to next year’s budget. In his double capacity as PM and Minister of Finance, Dr the Hon. Timothy Harris said that, when the pandemic restrictions started, his administration could safely rely on its fiscal reserves. Next year’s focus would be on further supporting the vulnerable and pursuing capital projects with the highest economic impact.
Balancing both economic and social impacts is the country’s successful Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programme. Since 1984, thoroughly vetted foreign investors have been able to gain second citizenship in exchange for a financial contribution. In light of the ongoing pandemic, St Kitts and Nevis has decided to encourage more families to apply for citizenship by offering them a temporarily reduced investment of US$150,000, directed to a government fund that then supports socio-economic initiatives on the islands. Families of up to four members have until January 15, 2021, to submit their applications through an authorised person.
In return, around 3,000 people are part of the government’s skills-enhancing STEP initiative, funded by the CBI Programme. Despite lower tax collections due to the pandemic, the government did not resort to layoffs, relying on its fiscal surpluses, accumulated yearly since 2016. In fact, PM Harris announced that, as of next year, qualified STEP workers would form part of the central government in a phased process. Furthermore, the PM said that another CBI-funded initiative — the Poverty Alleviation Programme — has so far paid out EC$23 million to households that earned less than EC$3,000 a month. This would reach EC$31.1 million by the end of the year.
“We could take tremendous pride that this small country has been the best-managed small island state. Every year, we presented a budget that resulted in a surplus in three critical indicators,” the PM said, referring to the Recurrent, Overall and Primary Accounts. “We have done an excellent job; when Covid-19 came our way in late March of this year, St Kitts and Nevis had the strongest reserve of any member state of the region. This is a remarkable achievement for the smallest independent state within the hemisphere.”
Moving forward, PM Harris said that the government is currently focused on safely reopening the economy. “We shall reprioritise the build-out of our capital projects in 2021, focusing on those with the highest economic impact. You shall see innovations in the transformation of our CBI Programme, the build-out of alternative energy, the expansion in agriculture and our fisheries programmes, increasing opportunities for our young people, to name a few.”
The PM estimates that it would take two years for St Kitts and Nevis’ economy to recover to “full health”. Borders for tourists reopen this week, with visitors advised to access www.covid19.gov.kn for entry protocols.