People-Centered Budget For The 2022 Financial Year, Presented By Prime Minister Harris, Passed In The National Assembly
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, December 20, 2021 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – Four days of debates and presentations by Parliamentarians in the National Assembly on the 2022 Budget came to a close this evening (Monday, December 20, 2021), and after being read for a third time, The Appropriation (2022) Bill, 2021 of EC$952,200,453 was unanimously passed.
The Bill, which sets out the total estimates for the 2022 financial year, was passed following the wrap-up by the mover of the Bill, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris.
Presented under the theme, “Investing in our People: Putting St. Kitts and Nevis Back on Track”, Prime Minister Harris stated that the 2022 Budget not only had the strong support of his Parliamentary colleagues but also that of the majority of persons across the Federation.
“Mr. Speaker, this Budget has been well received by the national community. It was really a people-centered Budget that responded to the felt needs of our people and it clearly met their expectations and aspirations,” Dr. Harris said in his wrap-up of the debate.
In its foresight, Prime Minister Harris said the Budget focuses on getting St. Kitts and Nevis back on the path of economic growth and development, which it was on before the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said, “The 2022 Budget is another tax-free budget put forward by our Team Unity administration, and more than that it predicts a small surplus in 2022. On page 35 paragraph 81 of the Budget Address, there is a prediction that we shall realise an overall surplus of $4 million and a primary surplus of $21.8 million. For such a budget to be delivered at this challenging time when governments all over the world are struggling to pay their bills, this is a welcomed relief and it speaks eloquently to our prudent fiscal management of our country and our hopes for a better new year.”
Dr. Harris continued, “This Budget has provided the necessary stimulus to drive economic activity and growth in 2022. Indeed, it is the IMF [International Monetary Fund] that has predicted that St. Kitts and Nevis should realise economic growth in the region of 10 percent. In this regard, we have extended a number of fiscal incentives to ease the burden on businesses, large and small, thereby providing them with the space for enhancing their operations and to make a viable contribution to the realization of the economic growth.”
Moreover, the Finance Minister noted that the 2022 Budget also provides for programmes and policies that will ensure the continued growth and development of the Federation beyond the upcoming financial year.
“When we talk, for example, about investment in housing, we are talking about an intergenerational investment. There is nothing short-term about the NHC [National Housing Corporation] investing ten million plus next year in the construction of houses. When we talk about allocating $27.4 million to education, there is nothing short-term about investment in education – it is a lifelong investment, Mr. Speaker. When we talk about, Mr. Speaker, in this particular next 12 months, we will see the build out of phase three of the JNF Hospital, there is nothing short term about strengthening our health system. It is for the present and it is for the future Mr. Speaker, and this is what this Budget was able to do,” Prime Minister Harris said.
The 2022 Budget provides for the commencement and completion of a number of key projects and policy programmes, including the start of construction on the Basseterre High School, and the completion of the Island Main Road Rehabilitation Programme, the St. Peter’s Health Center, and the Joseph N. France General Hospital Phase III Project. The Budget will also ensure the continuation of several social safety net programmes including the $500-monthly Poverty Alleviation Programme (PAP).