Minister Skerritt says ‘investment climate has never been stronger.’ Chides Opposition leader Mark Brantley and former minister Harris ‘for attempts to destabilise the country’

St. Kitts and Nevis’ Minister of Tourism, International Transport, International Trade, Industry and Commerce, Sen. the Hon. Richard “Ricky” Skerritt. (Photo by Erasmus Williams)

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, MARCH 20TH 2013 (CUOPM) – Minister of Tourism and International Trade, Industry and Commerce, Sen. the Hon. Richard “Ricky” Skerritt Wednesday chided Leader of the Opposition, the Hon. Mark Brantley and former Senior Minister Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris for their attempts to destabilize the twin-island Federation.

Speaking during a ministerial press conference Mr. Skerritt gave the assurance that “the investment climate has never been stronger and the real investment activity has never been more active.”

He accused two members of Parliament from the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly (whom he did not name) of “bashing our country and bashing the Prime Minister and the Government that I have a privilege to be a part of” on a Jamaica radio station Hot 102 FM.

Mr. Skerritt said he was called by a friend in Jamaica who gave him the link and having listened hear the two parliamentarians “predicted that there will be civil unrest. They predicted some of (I assume) my colleagues here because I know they cannot mean me, will walk away from this government shortly. And I almost didn’t recognize the country that they were speaking about.”

He said it was his understanding that “this kind of interview has been taking place across the region in a concerted, deliberate, strategic attack on the economy of St. Kitts and Nevis, in an unfortunate and what I call a sad attempt to paint a picture of a country that somehow, is in distress, a country that is headed for major instability and unrest.”

Minister Skerritt took the opportunity to assure the people of St. Kitts and Nevis “that regardless of these attempts to destabilize and these attempts to paint as nasty a picture as possible of St. Kitts and Nevis, that nothing can be further away from the truth.”

He disclosed that he has had the privilege for the last four weeks, to have added to his responsibility, the portfolio of the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Commerce and Consumer Affairs added to the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport.

Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly and Deputy Premier of Nevis, Hon. Mark Brantley

“I therefore have the honour and privilege to sit where you can possibly describe as the epicentre of economic awareness and let me reassure the people of St. Kitts and Nevis, the investment climate has never been stronger and the real investment activity has never been more active,” said Mr. Skerritt.

According to Mr. Skerritt, a former president of the St. Kitts and Nevis Chamber of Industry and Commerce, there “are at least ten major projects in the resort and residential and education tourism business that I can point to,” He invited members of the media to do their research and find them out.

“There are at least ten projects that will result and in fact already resulting over the course of this year, in the area of EC$1 billion dollars of investment in this country,” said Minster Skerritt.

“That would not be happening, if this was a country where investors were afraid to do business; that would not be happening where people were taking to the streets and being upset that somehow Government is non-functional,” said Minister Skerritt.

As the new Minister responsible for Industry, he has engaged persons in those areas where it is perceived that business future is more vulnerable in the area of the manufacturing sector.

Mr. Skerritt said that a day after his new appointment he met with the Chairman of the Manufacturing Division of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce and a former President of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce to discussed areas of intervention that were necessary.

“Immediately we began work and I can say that one company that had been significantly struggling and in fact where layoffs had taken place, over the last year and where over 100 employees had lost their jobs, we are working actively, feverishly, and I hastily, say successfully to arrest the decline and fortunes of that company,” said Mr. Skerritt.

Former Senior Minister, Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris

He said he has engaged that company’s major client in Germany and their major creditors which will result in a historic and unprecedented partnership between the public and private sector.

“This company is now facing an optimistic outlook with the possibility of a turn around and even beginning to hire additional employees in the coming months,” said Mr. Skerritt.

He said there is also another company which has been doing better but which has been somewhat stifling its growth plans because it needs for additional space had not been made clear to this cabinet and certainly had not been made clear to him

“I am happy to say there has been a very rapid and productive Cabinet submission place before cabinet last week Monday,” said Minister Skerritt.

He said Cabinet has agreed to make available the old Supply Office – 12,500 sq ft available to this particular company so that it can proceed with its expansion plans a,” he said and disclosed that the expansion plans which will be rolled to the media in the coming weeks after the signing of another Partnership Development Agreement with the manufacturer. This will result in additional employees being hired.

“The point I want to make to this country at this crucial time is that whatever the politics is, whatever people’s political opinions, however much they hate, dislike and however much they may feel like it’s their time, it is always time for the country to move forward and the country will only move forward if business grows, if there are more opportunities for businesses of all types, if there are more opportunities for people to find work, and for people to get empowered and that is what this Government is seeking to do,” said Minister Skerritt.

“Every single day, that I serve this country as a minister, that is what I seek to do regardless of what others might be telling Jamaican audiences, St. Lucian, Antiguan or Trinidadian Audiences, this is about St. Kitts and Nevis where all is welcome and there is opportunity for all,” he said.

He concluded: “And people who live here know better, people who work here know better, people who live here know that the ministries we represent and the Government that is led by Dr. Denzil Douglas is a Government that works hard; a Government that continues to look out for the empowerment of its people and I am confident that the work we are doing will continue to bring good dividends.”

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