Basseterre, Aug. 23, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis, Honourable Dr. Terrance Drew, addressed the nation recently on St Kitts and Nevis’ Labour Party’s (SKNLP) one-year anniversary and outlined some of the Party’s successes in that period.
After Honourable Dr. Drew consulted with experts during the pandemic, he made the bold decision to lift Covid-19 restrictions. This decision supported the survival of the tourism sector.
Honourable Dr. Drew, shared on social media his gratitude for the support the government received from local citizens and noted the country’s latest developments, he outlined SKNLP administration’s critical achievements from August 2022 to August 2023, which include:
Growth in the education sector
The government has significantly reduced student loan interest rates from nine per cent to five per cent at the Development Bank. And student loans received interest-free debt relief for the first time in a little over four years.
The government implemented a ‘Graduate Finance’ Project with ECD$15,000 credit for students with loans at the Development Bank and other banks. With an additional ECD$25,000 grant for students applying and studying relevant undergraduate or graduate programmes.
Sports and recreation
St Kitts and Nevis Ministry of Sports, under the leadership of Samal Duggins, has launched numerous initiatives as part of the government’s achievements, such as:
- Transforming Lambert’s playing field to be used to attract more citizens to partake in sports activities on the field.
- Restoration project in the Warner Park Cricket Stadium to host international games and support the growing tourism sector in the country.
Indigenous financial institutions in the country now provide zero down payment for mortgages, which makes it possible for homeowners to qualify to purchase their dream home on the twin island nation.
The government-subsidised Fuel Variation Charge (FVC), and the cost of fuel and electricity subsided to ECD$9 million per month.
The first Citizenship by Investment (CBI) dividends were paid out to CBI investors in December 2022 and in June 2023, indicating that the St Kitts and Nevis CBI Programme has shown strength in economic development.
During the first year of the new SKNLP administration in office, the government received the highest tax collection through inland revenue, despite no tax increases and new taxes. Small businesses in the country impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic received ECD$20,000 Small Business Loans from the Development Bank.
The government was able to reinstate its Gratuity payouts for retired Government Auxiliary Employees (CAE) with a minimum of 10 years of service.
Growth in the tourism sector
The government increased the number of different airlines to the destination with Caribbean Airlines, InterCaribbean Airlines and JetBlue Airlines to the country’s airlift. The “Venture Deeper” tourism brand campaign was launched to diversify tourism initiatives.
Honourable Dr. Drew and his administration welcomed the world’s largest cruise liner, Wonder of the Seas, to its port. Additional, extended discounted value-added tax days to three times a year – in Easter, Summer and Christmas festive seasons. And duty-free import of food up to 400lbs, including a duty-free allowance of US$200 for travellers and non-commercial importers.
Changes in the country’s legislation
The Government of St Kitts and Nevis improved its good governance by implementing changes to laws being passed to support and protect the country’s diverse communities, which include:
- A Domestic Violence Act to protect women, men and children who are exposed to and affected by domestic violence.
- Alterations were made to the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank legislation, and the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) Agreement Act was created for the country to access ECD$1.5 billion of capital to develop projects in electricity and energy, water and various other sectors.
Housing project launched
The government commitment is to build 2,400 affordable hurricane-resilient smart homes in four years that will be built in four phases. Each phase will construct 600 homes, with features for each new homeowner to enjoy, including a water tank and a rooftop water heater in each home.
Growth in the healthcare sector
Honourable Dr. Drew added that there are healthcare initiatives to provide essential healthcare to disadvantaged children through paying for emergency overseas medical care. This initiative saved over thirty sick children in the twin federation.
The above accomplishments were achieved by critical steps to preserve the economy and tourism sector. St Kitts and Nevis’ economy ricocheted in the last year with significant growth in the agriculture, financial services, and tourism sectors. As well as advancing the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programme, with new regulations to maintain competitiveness in the Caribbean and in the rest of the world.
The government placed emphasis on job creation and permanent employment opportunities for the country’s people, these subsequently boost the economy and significantly improve the livelihood of citizens.
The Government of St Kitts and Nevis’ vision is to evolve the country into a Sustainable Island State by focusing its governance on integrity, transparency, and accountability. Their commitment is to build a stronger country and empower its citizens.
Secretary of St Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Programme
Government of St. Kitts and Nevis