CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (December 18, 2006)
Premier of Nevis and Minster of Finance in the Nevis Island Administration the Hon. Joseph Parry presented a budget of confidence and people empowerment when the Nevis Island Assembly met at the Assembly Chambers in Charlestown on Monday, December 18, 2006.
While he addressed a packed gallery, the Finance Minister said the $164, 608, 228 budget was only the beginning of the journey of the Nevis Reformation Party led Administration, to reinvent and reinvigorate the government.According to Mr. Parry, his five month Administration had inherited many challenges and problems but nonetheless would take a positive approach to development and would empower its people to become more self reliant and independent and thereby reduce the burden on the state.
Notwithstanding, Mr. Parry said his Administration was left with no choice but to present a budget with a deficit but they would not be daunted by the challenges ahead.
“We have produced a budget with a projected overall deficit of $10, 709, 733. It is our intension to work diligently in the future to correct the mistakes of the past and bring fiscal stability to the island within five years. However, in the initial stages, we will have to make necessary investments with the view that as our people become more productive, the country as a whole will become more competitive in the world economy and the increases in incomes will help to keep the debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio and debt service ratio within acceptable limits.
“Madame President, I have indicated that this is a budget of confidence. This is why I have said that we will take a positive approach to tackling the development challenges of this country. In fact, we have already started the process of change. We have not been in office for six months and yet we have been making great strides,” he said.
The Finance Minister said he was aware that confidence in the absence of action was useless and therefore his Administration had presented a comprehensive plan for the development of Nevis with the human resource being at the very core.
Among the areas which will receive attention he said, are Education and Training, Social Transformation, Youth Development, Sports, Senior Citizens, Culture, Health Care, and Poverty Alleviation.
Mr Parry was confident that the policies and programmes outlined would propel Nevis forward and secure a brighter future for all.
“We will therefore have to carefully sequence our programmes and activities to restore fiscal discipline to the government within a short time frame. However, we have a team of men and women who have discipline, dedication and vision to overcome any obstacles and return this land of beauty on the path of progress and prosperity for all.
Mr. Parry also pointed to two major areas of concern; the high cost of debt, which he said was the most critical challenge inherited by his administration and the cost of living in Nevis.
He blamed the debt on the former administration’s reckless expenditure which generated a large overall deficit of $300,000 over12 of the 14 years it was in office. The debt he said, had been placed on the shoulders of Nevisians, which his administration now had the task to control and rectify.
Regarding the high cost of living, Mr Parry said while there was no reliable Consumer Price Index data of prices available at the moment, many Nevisians continued to complain about the high cost of living but his Administration would address the problem to alleviate the burden on Nevisians in particular the low income families.
Under the 2007 budget the Finance Minister outlined the various Ministries which received major increases in expenditure allocations and gave the reasons for the increases.
He said the Audit Department will receive an increased allocation of 12 percent. The increased allocation will allow for an increase in staff to enable the Department to execute its mandate more effectively, considering that transparency and governance were important to the Administration.
The Legal Department will receive an increase of 21 percent to provide for additional staff and for an increased allowance paid to legal counsels.
The Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Statistics will receive an increase in allocation of 7 percent to cover the projected increase in insurance cost in domestic debt servicing and in production and marketing of the International Financial Sector.
The allocation to the Premier’s Ministry will increase by 35 percent due largely to the transfer of the Press and Public Relations Department to this Ministry.
Human Resource Department will receive an increased allocation of 30 percent, most of which will be used to augment the training vote.
Social Development, Trade and Industry will receive an increase in allocation of 32 percent, to enable the total reorganisation of this Ministry with the addition of Culture, the Culturama Secretariat and Gender and Social Services. A Sports Division will also be created separate from the Youth Division. Most importantly, this Ministry will spearhead the government’s Social Action Programme which will involve the management of community centres and organisation of programmes throughout the communities.
However, the Ministry of Tourism’s allocation will be decreased by 62 percent due to the transfer of the Department of Culture and the Culturama Secretariat to the Ministry of Social Development and also the transfer of Press and Public Relations Department.
The allocation to the Ministry of Health was decreased by three percent as a result of the transfer of the Gender and Social Services Department to the Ministry of Social Development.