CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (December 20, 2006)
Private sector development is slated to receive a major shift in focus and strategy in 2007, to allow it to become the engine of economic growth in Nevis.
That disclosure came from Premier of Nevis and Minister of Finance the Hon. Joseph Parry, when he delivered the 2007 Budget Address on Monday December 18, 2006 at the Nevis Island Assembly in Charlestown.
He said the sector was an important component of his administration’s economic development strategy and must become the engine of growth for its economic strategy to become sustainable.“I feel very strongly about private sector private sector expansion and consequently, I have spent a significant amount of time talking to potential investors in Europe and America about opportunities in Nevis. I have received very positive feed back and I am confident that over the next five years, we will attract significant investments in hotels, villas, condominiums and holiday homes,” he said.
According to Mr. Parry, during the next fiscal year, a comprehensive fiscal incentive policy to stimulate the development of the private sector particularly the small and micro businesses would be developed.
Notwithstanding, Mr. Parry noted that production oriented businesses and those that were major foreign exchange earners for Nevis would receive special attention.
Also expected to come on stream in 2007, would be an Investment Committee headed by a member of Cabinet, to ensure that important projects with the potential to significantly increase incomes and employment, are fast tracked through the system.
The Premier said the Administration was also extremely interested in attracting Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) businesses because that area was extremely important to the development of Nevis and its ability to compete in the global market especially since the size and population of the island were not factors that limited its potential.
However, he said the Administration would begin to equip Nevisians with the skills necessary to obtain high quality jobs in the ICT sector and believed that the upgrade of computer labs in schools and equipped community centres, would greatly assist in the preparation of Nevisians for this dynamic sector,
Fiscal incentives would also be provided to companies which invested in technology type businesses including telecommunications, computer technology and data and voice service.
“We are confident that we will be able to attract investments in these areas over the next five years and thus provide greater diversity in terms of employment opportunities for our people,” he said.
In the small and micro business sector, Premier Parry said his government would provide greater access to funding and technical assistance and also expand the role of the Small Enterprise Development Unit (SEDU), to better cater to the needs of the small business sector.
The Unit would work closely with those businesses in an effort to assist them to become more competitive through improved marketing, innovation, accounting systems, productivity and efficiency.
The Administration, according to Mr. Parry, also planned to continue to work closely with the Caribbean Development Bank through its Caribbean Technology and Consultancy Services (CTCS) programme, to provide training for small businesses in the functional areas of business management.
He also disclosed that the Administration had budgeted an additional $200,000 to expand the Enterprise Development Fund to assist the small and micro business sector with funding for viable business proposals.
During 2007, a new policy would be developed to broaden the range of businesses that would be eligible to receive loans, as well as the provision of an increased ceiling to facilitate larger loan disbursements.
Mr. Parry also said that it was also the Administration’s intention to foster a better relationship with the private sector, by working closer with the Nevis Chapter of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the Small Business Association and also with social partners such as Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and other community based organizations.
“We want all of these organisations to have a voice and thus help to influence the policies of this Administration. In this regard we will launch a public/private sector consultation in September of every year to solicit the views of all the social and economic partners. This will be done during the preparation stage of the budget cycle so that we will be able to incorporate the ideas generated into the plans and programmes for the proceeding year,” he said.