BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, NOVEMBER 19TH, 2016 — Tonight (Saturday, November 19th, 2016), Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris unveiled his Team Unity administration’s Christmas stimulus package, which entails an extra month’s salary in December for all civil servants, auxiliary workers and pensioners on the government’s payroll.
“This payout will benefit not only federal employees and pensioners, but also those on the payroll of the Nevis Island Administration (NIA),” Prime Minister Harris said tonight during his National Address on ZIZ Television and Radio, noting that the Cabinet of Ministers took this decision yesterday, Friday, November 18th.
“My government encourages all entities in the public and private sectors to make a very special effort to deliver a gratuitous payment to their employees in December. The Ministry of Finance will work with the CFBC [Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College] and other governmental agencies to make this happen. We estimate that potentially EC$30 million will be pumped into the economy as a consequence of this bonus by the government. The multiplier effect of this sum will be significant at this time of the year,” Dr. Harris added.
The Minister of Finance expressed hope that the private sector would take a cue from his Team Unity Government and give a Christmas bonus to their employees. “As the principal beneficiaries of consumer expenditure, we hope that our private sector firms will do more than the normal pay for their employees,” Prime Minister Harris said.
Dr. Harris also sounded an appeal for charitable giving and fiscal responsibility. “We urge those who are receiving extra to show a little more kindness during the Yuletide season, and we caution all to spend wisely and avoid waste,” the Honourable Prime Minister said tonight.
The drumbeat for fiscal responsibility makes sense, particularly coming from an administration whose expert management of the country’s finances is unquestionable.
At his press conference on Wednesday, October 26th, 2016, Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris said that, “Recurrent revenue for the first nine months of 2016 totals $480.7 million: 9 percent above our budget. The tax revenue of $296.6 million was up over budget, and over the 2015 comparator,” adding: “The fact that all of the revenue heads are performing above budget is a clear indication that something positive is happening in the economy, and that can’t be denied.”
Dr. Harris also said on October 26th that, “Our fiscal accounts up to September 2016 record a recurrent surplus of $120.3 million, an overall surplus of $124.2 million and a primary surplus of $141.6 million. Coming out of the Monetary Council meeting held last Friday, October 21st, we know that St. Kitts and Nevis is projected by our Central Bank to have the highest primary balance in the sub-region for the period 2016 to 2018. This is a major achievement for the new administration.”
Tonight, Prime Minister Harris said that the Team Unity Government feels it is incumbent upon it to ensure that this achievement – the skillful handling of the country’s finances – redounds to the benefit of all citizens and residents of St. Kitts and Nevis. “We are committed to ensure that all share in the economic fortunes of our beloved country,” the Minister of Finance said during his National Address.
The administration’s commitment was evident in its Post-Cabinet Briefing of June 25th, 2016, which announced that, “The Cabinet discussed matters in relation to the stimulation of the economy going forward. The Cabinet of Ministers affirms via this Cabinet Briefing that the latter half of 2016 should witness even better growth in the country as a result of the implementation of a number of initiatives.”
Stimulus initiatives that were announced tonight by the Honourable Prime Minister included news that:
Gift packages of foodstuff will be allowed free of duties and taxes for the first 400lbs from Friday, December 9th to Saturday, December 31st, 2016.
Travelers will receive a duty-free allowance of EC$540.00 (US$200.00) off the C.I.F. [cost, insurance and freight] value. This, too, will run from Friday, December 9th to Saturday, December 31st, 2016.
Prime Minister Harris continued, saying in his address tonight that: “I am pleased to announce to all our stand-alone restaurant operators that the government has approved an extension of duty-free concessions, which are applicable every five years. These concessions apply to the following purchases: the purchase of food and wine, restaurant equipment, cutlery and glassware. I should note that the normal VAT rate of 17 percent and Customs Service Charge at 6 percent are payable on the importation of equipment, cutlery, crockery and glassware. Interested restaurant operators are asked to contact SKIPA [the St. Kitts Investment Promotion Agency] on the 3rd Floor of the Cable Building on Cayon Street, Basseterre.”
Tonight, Dr. Harris reiterated that the Discounted VAT-Rate Day is Friday, December 16th, 2016. Last year’s Discounted VAT-Rate Day sales set a record since the initiative was launched in 2011. The Minister of Finance and National Security also reminded the public that the government offers duty-free concessions on all safety and surveillance equipment for households and businesses. “The security forces will beef up their presence on VAT Day, and every effort will be made to ensure the safety of our streets as people go about their legitimate business,” Prime Minister Harris said.