Basseterre, St. Kitts (CUOPM) — Prime Minister the Right Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas says the 2015 Budget to be presented in the National Assembly on Tuesday is not only about spending and raising money in 2015, but will highlight the vision for future development for St. Kitts and Nevis under the next Labour Administration.
“And so this Budget is a special budget,” Prime Minister Douglas told hundreds of supporters at a public meeting in the Central Basseterre constituency on Sunday night.
“I want to make it absolutely clear that you will never ever have a budget of its kind in our future, because it comes at a time when St. Kitts and Nevis has finally turned the corner from what had been a very serious continuing recession created by global conditions and now going to be in a brighter future,” he said.
He said nationals and residents will be able to appreciate how it is going to be done based on what Government is presently doing and what it intends to do in the future.
Prime Minister Douglas, who is also the National Political Leader of the ruling St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party said the 2015 Budget will continue to ensure that there, is money in the pockets of the ordinary man and woman in St. Kitts and Nevis.
“For three years we made serious adjustments to the economy. The fiscal situation was very challenging with continuing deficits year after year, but today we no longer have a government whose accounts are in the red, but it is now in the black and getting blacker and blacker every single day,” he told supporters.
Government action he pointed out has resulted in the reduction in the national debt which continues on a downward trajectory.
Dr. Douglas, who is also Minister of Finance, noted recent remarks by the Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), Sir K. Dwight Venner that St. Kitts and Nevis continues to be number 1 in terms of economic development in the entire Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU).
“We had a debt of almost 200% of GDP and it is now down to less than 90% and you will hear that it is almost maybe down to 80% on Tuesday when I present the budget to our people,” said the Prime Minister.
Reiterating that the National Debt has been significantly reduced, Prime Minister Douglas pointed out that it means there will be greater capacity to spend more money in a targeted way to the benefit of the people of St. Kitts and Nevis.
“That is why when it became obvious that we can afford to revisit our situation especially with electricity, we asked that the arrears which were there from 2011 be completely wiped off so that people would have more money in their pockets to spend rather than paying it on arrears which they owed,” he said.
“We wanted to make sure that our people’s spending power would increase as a financial situation of our country also improved and so we decided that it was important to revisit the level of our minimum wage moving it from EC$320 per week where it was the time, the highest in the Caribbean region, but increased further to EC$360 per week to ensure that our people would benefit from all of the gains that we have made after several years of tightening our belts,” Dr. Douglas said.
He used the opportunity to point out that his Labour government also increased the salaries of civil servants with a 10 percent increase spread over a three-year period.
“In January 2015, our public servants will again get another increase in their wages and salaries, because Labour has said that as the economy of the country continues to improve, it must be to the benefit of the people of St. Kitts and Nevis in particular,” said Prime Minister Douglas, who added that the Cabinet was meeting on Monday to decide on a Special Bonus for civil servants this Christmas.
“We intend to make sure that as things continue to improve in this country, we shall deliver to the people of St. Kitts and Nevis. We shall therefore make sure that whenever there is a benefit as a result of the improvement in the economy, the people must benefit from the financial gains,” he said.