St. Kitts – Nevis’ PM Outlines Key Economic Sector Reforms

St. Kitts - Nevis' PM - Dr. Denzil Douglas

St. Kitts – Nevis’ PM – Dr. Denzil Douglas
Photo By Erasmus Williams

Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
September 03, 2010 (CUOPM)

The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis has outlined a number of reforms being implemented in key sectors of the local economy to address the several challenges brought about by the current international economic and financial crisis.

In his address at the one-day pre-Budget National Consultation on the Economy on Thursday , St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas said it must be borne in mind that the reforms are intended to have a fiscal impact in the form of savings.

“We also intend to introduce reforms that would allow us to use our limited resources to achieve maximum benefits.  This is why we are also going to be identifying wastage and looking at ways for increasing productivity,” said the Prime Minister.

He disclosed that in the Ministry of Health’s tool which guides its strategic reform process is the document “Health St Kitts and Nevis ““ Strategic Plan for Health 2008-2012.”

The Ministry has taken up the challenge to become more responsive through the reconfiguration of its management to function as four (4) semi-autonomous but integrated programmes namely:
1. Office of Policy Development and Information Management

2. Institution Based Health services

3. Community Health Services

4. Parks and Beaches Unit
This strategic arrangement into discreet yet integrated units will allow the Ministry to enhance service delivery. This is a critical factor in evaluating the performance of the health sector.  The capacity of the Ministry to plan, monitor and evaluate its programmes has been improved tremendously as evidenced by development of the HIV Strategic Plan, the National Dietary Guidelines, the renewal of Primary Health Care Initiative and the Human resource planning undertaking.

“The Ministry is cognizant that partnership between state and non-state partners is critical to the success of its mission to ensure a healthy population.  To this end several areas for investment partnership have been identified and you our partners are encouraged to give your fullest support to this worthy cause which will directly and indirectly impact the state of our nation now and in the future,” said Dr. Douglas.

Education reform is mainly driven by the Ministry’s White Paper on Education Development and policy 2009-2019.  The strengthening of leadership and management has been identified as an area for concentration.  As a result a number of activities have been planned over the short to medium term. These include the development of a proper system of documentation and data collection, improvement and facilitation of teachers’ professional development and the establishment of clear guidelines and procedures to govern all activities undertaken by the Ministry of Education.

Facilitating intergenerational interaction has been cited in the White Paper as a desirable outcome.  In order to facilitate this activity a number of school clubs and after-school programmes in both Primary and Secondary schools are being developed.

“The incidence of violence in schools has also been highlighted as an area that needs special attention and the Ministry has employed a research psychologist to lead the Ministry’s drive to implement a school violence prevention programme,” said the Prime Minister.

Dr. Douglas disclosed that the Ministry of Education continues to monitor and evaluate reading ability in primary school students as well as the identification of other learning disabilities and to institute remedial action.

“At the secondary level the CXC-CSEC examinations pass rate continues to improve and now stands at 82.11 percent with the number of students being offered the opportunity to take these exams continuing to increase. The latter criteria is one that my Government pays particular attention to in evaluating the success of our education system. As we are all aware universal secondary education is available to all in St Kitts and Nevis, but it is the number of students that are able to graduate from the system and begin to contribute to the society that measures its success,” said the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.

He informed that the Tourism Sector has been dealing with the challenges brought about by the global financial meltdown and the ensuing economic crisis with its usual resoluteness.

“Government has been supporting the sector by way of concession on taxes to full service stand alone restaurants and small hotels. We have been trying to assist these entities as important components of the sector to remain competitive during these trying economic times,” said the Prime Minister.

He alluded to the fact that even though there has been a fall off in Foreign Direct Investment, certain critical development projects continue without major obstacles. These include the Silver Reef Development, Ocean’s Edge, the Hyatt Resort and Spa and Christophe Harbour.

“I wish to urge all stakeholders in the sector to be proactive in dealing with the challenges which they face and to continue to build a positive reputation for themselves and our country,” said Dr. Douglas.

The Prime Minister said that the Ministry of International Trade, Industry, Commerce and Consumer Affairs continues to carry out its mandate to manage the country’s trade policy for the achievement of maximum benefits from participation in regional and international organizations.

Dr. Douglas added that the capacity of the Ministry has been greatly enhanced to perform its core functions and provide advice to the private sector through its participation in training opportunities offered by its counterparts.

The Ministry continues to evaluate the benefits being derived from participation in these organizations and to provide feedback to Government as to the nature and extent of its future relations.

It also works very closely with the manufacturing sector which despite the challenges brought on by the global events has continued to be a very important pillar in the economy.  Government continues to provide the necessary framework in which the sector can develop and expand.

The Prime Ministr also indicated that the Ministry of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Constituency Empowerment has established a Policy and Planning Unit to lead in agricultural planning and reform that would improve the nation’s food security.

The Ministry’s policy focus is to engage in activities which will lead to sustainable food production post sugar.  The Ministry continues to provide increased access to agricultural lands through the vesting of large tracts of land in the Ministry which are then be leased or rented to farmers joint venture with private enterprise is an area that needs to be further explored as we move forward with the transformation of the agricultural sector.

Dr. Douglas said that his administration works towards the development of the nation the maintenance of law and order remains a priority.

“The deviant behavior of our citizens of whatever age group is of paramount concern to us and therefore we are not only looking at the symptoms but we also endeavor to unearth the root causes form an early age so that we may prevent rather than just try to cure.  To this end the Government has been seeking expert assistance in the area of Gang Analysis from regional and international organizations.  The Government also continues to upgrade physical facilities occupied by the law enforcement bodies, provide the necessary training and development for officers and improve strategic planning and management of the resources available to us,” said the Prime Minister.

With respect to information technology, the ICT Development Unit is fully engaged in the process of strengthening the infrastructure to facilitate more ICT leveraging of which one of the major components is the implementation of a government Wide Area Network (GWAN).

Over the last three years a number of eGovernment services have been rolled out through the establishment of a Government Portal and Hospital Information System.  These have been achieved with the assistance of the Republic of China on Taiwan.

Prime Minister Douglas noted that during last year’s National Consultation, the way in which the Government was prioritizing activities related to youth was outlined.

He said that the Department of Youth continues to mobilize youths for positive action through volunteerism and community service.

The After School programme of the department is in its pilot stage and targets students from ages twelve to sixteen to meet over a twelve week period to be empowered with survival skills.

“The youth media programme has gained significant commendations and plans are in place to increase such activities. We understand that sports can be an important avenue for the channeling of youth energies and for training and development in the principles and values that should guide our youths,” said Prime Minister Douglas, who gave the assurance that his St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Government remains committed to the sports programme.

“We have been seeing the fruits of this investment in the form of success locally, regionally and internationally,” said Dr. Douglas.

He said that the Ministry responsible for Sports works very closely with the Ministry of Education and National Sporting Organizations to facilitate physical education instruction. The intention is also to have coaches work more intensely with potential athletes not only during school time but after school and on weekends.

“We believe that continued face to face engagement with our youths is one of the means by which they can be steered towards the right path of productive, meaningful lives,” said Prime Minister Douglas to the 200 participants from government ministries and departments, the private sector, non-governmental organisations and political groups.

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