September 12, 2007
Prudent management and sound financial and investment policies are the key ingredients that will sustain the levels of economic activity to strengthen the economy of Nevis. They would also sustain full employment, meet the island’s financial obligations at home and abroad and maintain a positive growth rate over the next five years. That was the view of Premier and Minister of Finance in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) Hon. Joseph Parry, at the opening ceremony of a Consultation on the Economy at the Four Seasons Resort on Wednesday September 12, 2007.
The consultation, a first for Nevis, was hosted by the Ministry of Finance under the theme “Stimulating Growth, Development and People Empowerment”. The landmark forum brought together a number of stakeholders from every sector on the island.
Mr. Parry made the comment after his disclosure of the islands current debt which he said his one year old government had inherited but was obligated to service.
“We inherited a direct government debt of $200 million and $80million from the public corporations. This debt we are obliged to service. In addition, we have had to pay approximately $300,000 for the service of TEMPO and $900,000 for American Airlines both arrangements made by the former administration.“The Nevis Reformation Party-led Administration was faced with three choices. One Just to service the debts left behind and advance no projects for the country; two service the debts left behind and advance a number of projects on Nevis or three service the debts, advance a number of projects and use the instruments of fiscal policy to reduce debts over time. We chose the third option. The result is straight forward and simple. In the short term the debt will increase but it must decrease if we are to complete the Island Main Road and the Jessups Barnes Ghaut Village road.” he said.
Notwithstanding, Mr Parry noted that the Administration was obliged to pursue a number of projects which included the improvement of the Hanleys and Westbury Roads with concessionary funds from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) which offered a moratorium of five years on repayment;
There was also the expansion of the runway at Newcastle by 1000ft which will be financed from a loan from the Nevis Air and Sea Ports Authority which would repay itself over time and the expansion and refurbishment of reservoirs on the island.
On a positive note the Premier listed a number of initiatives undertaken by the new Administration. He indicated that the El Paradisio Hotel was under construction and a local contractor was employed. When it reopened in November, that establishment would employ 25 persons.
Simplicity Villas was approved to commence construction under the supervision of a local contractor and a major villa project at Paradise will commence construction before the end of 2007. Twenty-five villas will be constructed at a value of not less than $3million.
In 2008, Mr. Parry disclosed that a 120 room hotel/marina project was slated to commence construction at Lovers Beach and another 100 room hotel at Herberts Beach. Both projects he noted would be precursors to a world class hotel which will commence construction at the Pinneys Newfound site in 2009.
These investments he said would inject millions of dollars into Nevis’ economy at the construction stage and will create 1000 permanent jobs when they are completed.
“This will be the first major injection of foreign exchange since the construction of the Four seasons Hotel and it would lead to considerable spin offs in the economy and a major boost to government revenue,” he said.
Meantime, Mr. Parry used the occasion to announce the introduction of a Property Tax in 2009 which would not affect persons with a house valued under $100,000. He explained that payments would be based on market value, rather than rental value and present home owners would not be asked to increase payment. Instead persons outside the present catchment area would be included for the fist time.
He also disclosed that the Federal Government had agreed, that all taxes paid on insurance policies and telephone calls on Nevis would be paid to the Nevis Treasury.