St. Kitts – Nevis Government Minister On The Ball

Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
January 28, 2008

This year will be abuzz with activity as Minister of Housing, Agriculture and Fisheries Honourable Cedric Liburd propels his ministry forward.

During an SKNIS-facilitated interview with Agriculture’s Communications Officer Clement “Juni” Liburd, Minister Liburd revealed that each of his four areas of operation achieved much during 2007 and have much to do in 2008.

He said that five townhouses of five units were completed in Central Basseterre last November and two townhouses of 10 units were recently opened in Taylors.  The Minster responsible for Housing added that the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Home Improvement Project was also seeing an expansion, in that 223 of the 450 owners had applied to have their homes completed.  This was being done through the National Housing Corporation (NHC) and funding provided by a Venezuelan Petro Caribe fund.  A total of US$10 million was provided, of which EC$750,000 would be used to complete the starter homes.

According to Minister Liburd, the difference would be used by NHC to construct 200 homes for former SSMC employees.

The Corporation will be constructing an additional 500 homes as outlined by the Minister.  He said that these homes would be for persons who did not fall under the NEMA Home Improvement Project or the SSMC Housing Programme but instead work on the CA Paul Southwell Industrial Site, in agriculture or simply fall within the lower income bracket.  The Minister said that his ministry is now seeking financing for the programme which they hope to commence within the first quarter of 2008.

In addressing Agriculture, Minister Liburd noted that most aspects of the sector had improved as evidenced by increases in output.  He mentioned that former sugar workers continued to request agriculture land.  It was revealed that at the close of the sugar industry, 140 former SSMC employees applied to become farmers and at least 100 were approved and they were provided land, inputs and extension services.  The Agriculture Minister said this took place by means of a Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) ““funded project.  He said that FAO provided one million dollars.

The Minister gave much encouragement to the Fisheries sector.  He urged fishermen to increase their output as the local tourism industry was expanding and regional fishermen were trying to take advantage of the increased seafood demand.

Minister Liburd further noted that businessmen and fishermen from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Guyana as well as Trinidad and Tobago were seeking agreements to sell fish to the hotels, supermarkets and restaurants in the Federation.  He said that the government was adamant that the first priority should be given to local fishers who would have be focused and driven in order to reduce the large importation of fish for the local market.

He also revealed that Taiwan had provided funding for two 40-foot boats which would be used to train local fishermen and would eventually be leased by them.  The boats would be constructed during the year.

Minister Liburd is also responsible for Cooperatives which he said has the duty of crafting the legislation that manages the various cooperatives in agriculture, fisheries, the credit union, schools’ banking and the like.  He said that out of the agriculture sector has come the Bee Keeper’s Cooporative Society, and the St. Kitts Farmers’ Coorporative Society, among others.  He said the major activity in 2008 for Cooperatives is the review of legislation.  He said the process had already commenced and when it was completed, the amended version would help to strengthen, among other things, the matter of auditing for Trade Unions and other unions that are part of the Cooperative Society.

Other planned activities for 2008 include the construction of a packing house to assist the Farmers’ Cooperative with the presentation of their goods.  An agreement was being worked on to sell onions to Trinidad and Tobago and the Agriculture Open Day was being upgraded to a National Exhibition  in order to form part of the 25th Anniversary of Independence yearlong celebrations.

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