St. Kitts And Nevis Government Commences Work To Formulate The 2021 Budget In A COVID-19 Environment
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, October 19, 2020 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis today (Monday, October 19) commenced its annual budgetary process, through the Budget Estimates Committee Meetings, that is this year being formulated in the context of the challenges brought about by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The Budget Estimates Committee Meetings are de facto meetings of the Cabinet at which time Line Ministries are required to present their plans for the upcoming Budget year, account for their performance or lack thereof, during the current year and assure Cabinet that their policies, programmes and activities are being pursued with diligence, care and in accordance with the law and best practices.
Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, said this process is essentially “a legal obligation and an obligation of accountability which we attempt to respond to simultaneously, and the exercise in which we are engaged today and for the rest couple of days would help us come up with the estimates that are going to lay the framework for the Appropriation Bill and the subsequent actions that will take place thereafter.”
The prime minister further stated that as the Government looks ahead to 2021, the most significant challenge it faces is that of COVID-19, which has destabilized economies all around the world.
Dr. Harris added, “The advice now is that we have to make our priority sustaining the recovery, and that requires that in our budgeting process we pay attention to resource allocation and we prioritize them. There are certain things that we will try to do, one being to pay attention to the economic infrastructure buildout because that is critical if we are to reclaim the recovery, and we want to of course pay attention to activities on the capital level that will generate jobs because this is critical to bringing normalcy and giving people spending power in a sustained way.”
Financial Secretary in the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis, Mrs. Hilary Hazel, reiterated the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic on the budgetary process. She, however, noted that the Federation has in the past risen above challenges, and is confident that it will again in this regard.
“Part of the discussions during the next four days of the estimates committee would be how do we strike the balance to have the Government continue to be a player in terms of spurring on economic growth as well as maintaining some semblance of fiscal prudence. We have faced adversity before. Even though the COVID-19 pandemic presents challenges that have not been presented in past crises, we can still use some of those lessons from the past to help to guide us in terms of our stabilization and stimulation of the economy,” Mrs. Hazel said.
The Budget Estimates Committee Meetings are expected to run from Monday, October 19, to Thursday, October 22, at the Ministry of Finance Conference Room.
Officials from the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs, the Office of the Attorney General, Social Development and Gender Affairs, Foreign Affairs and Aviation, and the Office of the Prime Minister all made presentations during today’s session.