SIDF audited accounts to be made public says PM Douglas

St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister The Rit. Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas (Photo by Erasmus Williams)

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, JANUARY 2ND 2012 (CUOPM) – St. Kitts and Nevis has requested the independent Board of Governors of the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation (SIDF) to make available the audited accounts of the Foundation for public scrutiny.

“We rationalized the Citizenship by Investment Programme that was established by the previous Government as early as 1984, and we have converted it into an important source of economic stability through its very positive impact on the real estate and the construction sectors and through the operation of the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation (SIDF), which is funded by the contributions of persons obtaining citizenship under the programme,” said Prime Minister The Right Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas in his traditional new year message on Sunday.

“Unlike in many other countries, the operation of the Citizenship by Investment Programme has ensured that no major ongoing hotel or condominium project has ceased construction because of the global financial crisis. Indeed many new and prospective projects are only possible as a result of the operation of this programme that is so critical to the economic performance of our nation. In addition, the SIDF has supported the financial sector through the mobilization of a substantial amount of financial resources,” Dr. Douglas told the Nation.

He said the SIDF has also funded a variety of critical projects in the Federation, including environmental projects, education and training, entrepreneurial development, airlift support and tourism development, and social and economic infrastructure.

“The resources expected to flow to the Government from the Citizenship by Investment Programme have also been taken into account in the IMF supported Programme and has served to substantially reduce the level of adjustment that our people and our creditors must bear as part of the programme,” said Prime Minister Douglas, who disclosed that the accounts of the SIDF have been audited and, because of the national significance of this import Foundation, “I have requested the independent Board of Governors, which is responsible for this Foundation, to make available the audited accounts of the Foundation for public scrutiny. I am certain that the public would, on examining these accounts, commend this important institution for its outstanding contribution to the development of St. Kitts and Nevis.”

He said that in a crisis of the magnitude of the global financial crisis, the risk for vulnerable groups including young people and low-income families, are especially high, and his St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Government was “not prepared to play games with the livelihood of these groups or compromise the future of our people by unnecessary delay arising from short-term political or other considerations.

“We combined the outstanding technical resources of our Ministry of Finance and Development with the best technical advice available regionally and internationally to craft and implement a programme to protect our country from economic devastation, and we proceeded immediately with its implementation,” said the Prime Minister.

He said St. Kitts and Nevis is better prepared to deal with the global financial and economic storm that currently affects the twin-island Federation.

“We have been working feverishly, with great success, to diversify and modernize our economy even before the demise of sugar in 2005. We built our infrastructure to a level where is has been among the best and most modern in the region. We modernized and strengthened our health sector with the result that we have increased our life expectancy to 73, and reduced our rate of infant mortality from as high as 25 per thousand live births to some 12 per 1000 live births,” said Prime Minister Douglas, who disclosed that St. Kitts and Nevis has sharpened the focus of the education system on the children at risk of prematurely leaving school and have at the same time produced performances in the CXC Examinations that are among the best in the Caribbean.

“We constructed thousands of affordable homes for low income families and providing many of them low-cost subsidized financing so that they do not face the risk of expulsion and embarrassment currently being faced by many homeowners in even advanced countries.

We introduced a fiscal consolidation programme with the help of the CARTAC as early as 2003, and as soon as it became apparent that the global financial crisis could linger on and reap havoc in our Federation, we escalated this programme into a full scale IMF supported programme. We also moved expeditiously to counter the huge risk of our very high Debt to GDP ratio through the implementation of a Debt Restructuring Programme,” said the Prime Minister.

Dr. Douglas, who was elevated to the Privy Council by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second in November, said that as leader of St. Kitts and Nevis he is not prepared to play politics or to bury his head in the sand and claim that all is well.

“I understand that the only way that my Government can continue to bring real value to the people of this country, is to look at the problems we face honestly and realistically with a view to arriving at the best possible solutions. Hence, I have no hesitation in saying that I know the global crisis has inflicted some pain on our people and indeed on people all over the face of the globe. I also know that the measures that we were forced to introduce to protect our people and reduce the risk of economic mayhem and devastation, have created some difficulties and hardships, during this period of adjustment,” said the Prime Minister.

He said he is persuaded that St. Kitts and Nevis would have been much worse off if several fiscal measures were not introduced.

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