Chamber President Pleased With The 2021 Budget And Government’s Decision To Extend COVID-19 Stimulus Packages

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, December 16, 2020 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris delivered his 2021 Budget Address on Tuesday, December 15 to a packed hall of senior government officials, representatives of the diplomatic and consular corps and business leaders at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort.

The much anticipated address highlighted, inter alia, the St. Kitts and Nevis Government’s plans and programmes that will help to stimulate the Federation’s recovery efforts and minimize the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on the economy.

Among the interventions listed by Prime Minister Harris was the Government’s decision to extend a number of offerings first outlined in the $120-million stimulus package, originally announced in March 2020 to help cushion the economic and health fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

Some of the stimulus measures that were extended to June 2021 are the removal of VAT and Import Duty on hygiene items; the removal of Import Duty and Customs Service Charge on vegetables, fruits, fruit juices, cough and cold preparations and vitamins; waiver of payments for the consumption of water for individuals who have been laid off or have experienced a reduction in earnings as a consequence of COVID-19; 24 percent reduction of the Corporate Income Tax rate from 33 percent to 25 percent for businesses that retain at least 75 percent of their employees and the reduction of the unincorporated business tax rate by 50 percent.

This decision is being welcomed by the St. Kitts and Nevis Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

Chamber President, Mrs. Giselle Matthews, in a post-Budget address interview hosted by ZIZ Broadcasting Corporation, said, “I think the [Budget] presentation spoke to regenerating the economy and in doing so, one of the private sector on a whole and the business community would be pleased with is that the Government was able to continue the reduction in the tax breaks that they’ve given to businesses. Unincorporated tax to 50 percent extended down to June of 2021, so that’s part of the stimulus package which will continue. A reduction in corporate tax rate from 33 percent to 24 percent which is also extended to June 2021.”

Prime Minister Harris stated that his Government is of the view that “the extension of these measures would help to advance the recovery process and, most importantly for my people-centered administration, is the fact that it would extend important lifelines to families and businesses.”

President Matthews also pointed to other positive indicators outlined in the prime minister’s Budget Address such as the increase in the application for new business licences this year.

I think they have had many applications for new businesses which shows that even with COVID there is still some sort of activity taking place and that people are encouraged to open new businesses, and a real thrust towards supporting those businesses and individuals on a whole with the stimulus package that can allow people to spend some money and put money into the economy,” Mrs. Matthews added.

President Matthews was also encouraged by the Government’s added interest in the development of the agricultural and fisheries sector.

The waiver of payments for the consumption of water by farmers was also among the stimulus measures extended into 2021.

Furthermore, the Government intends to inject an additional $5 million over two years to boost production in the agricultural sector to ensure greater food security for the Federation.

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