Health Care for all, several capital projects in 2013 Budget, says PM Douglas

Cuban-trained physician Dr. Vance Gilbert attending to a patient

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, APRIL 2ND 2013 (CUOPM) – The people of St. Kitts and Nevis has been assured of the government’s commitment to promoting economic growth and that it does not exist in a vacuum.

“We seek an expanded economic activity not simply in order for it to be reflected in a report somewhere. We have made these priorities in order that the men and women of St. Kitts and Nevis might be active and fulfilled participants in this heightened economic activity, both applying the skills they now possess, as well as by moving to acquire whatever skills they may currently lack,” said Dr. Douglas during his weekly radio programme “Ask the Prime Minister.”

He referred to the People Empowerment Programme, a joint initiative between the Government and the Sugar Industry Diversification Fund (SIDF) that gives Kittitians and Nevisians desirous of acquiring or strengthening the skills thus enabling them to participate in the new economy.

“The Budget will provide for increased investment in our country’s capital projects. Next Tuesday, I will be able to expand on this point and provide the level of detail that would not be possible now, because of I must leave some time for your questions. The point is that it is my Government’s job to anticipate the needs of our nation, and to meet them. And that is what this Budget does. As a result, among the capital investments provided for in the Budget will the drilling of wells and other activities throughout the country, on which I will expand on Tuesday,” said Prime Minister Douglas, who pointed out that even with these increased investments in capital programs, the 2013 Budget will still produce a surplus.

“This is quite significant. And not everyone can say this. Without being too specific, and regrettably for example, even some countries with which we feel special bonds of kinship are experiencing great difficulties in this regard, with dire consequences, for example, for their civil servants,” said Dr. Douglas,

“And this is what we meant when we explained that as a result of having cut our debt almost in half, we would have more resources with which to meet the needs of the country and meet the needs of our people,” said the Prime Minister.

He disclosed that the close monitoring of the VAT is a number one priority, in order that a review can be made, as soon as conditions permit.

“In addition, the country’s social safety net, designed to protect the most vulnerable among us, remains strong, firmly in place, and un-cut in the Budget that I will present next week,” said Dr. Douglas, who further stated that his St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Government will take measures to “provide free and identical health care to every single Government employee – without regard to rank, seniority, or any other consideration.”

“This was a major and indeed historic step,” said Prime Minister Douglas, who indicated his government’s commitment freeing thousands of Government employees from the financial distress so many all over the world experience whenever they, or a family member, are struck with a serious illness.

“We announced at the time that health care for Government employees was Step One of a two-step process, Step Two being the provision of health care to every national of St. Kitts and Nevis,” said the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.

He said the Budget will demonstrate the seriousness of government’s commitment to the capitalization of the National Insurance Programme in order to bring to an end the days of the people of St. Kitts and Nevis having to accumulate gigantic debts, or even be forced to sell their homes, in order to meet the costs of a major illness.

“In St. Kitts and Nevis, there will be health care for all. And this Budget will place us squarely and securely on that path,” said Prime Minister Douglas.

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