According to Nevisian Premier, Joseph Parry, government workers will be laid off on Nevis because of the debt restructuring exercise currently underway.
The Nevisian leader, who is also Minister of Finance said, the restructuring exercise is something that the NIA has undertaken and that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has accepted the procedures they wish to embark on.
Parry said, “Basically part of the idea is that we would have to discipline ourselves and organize ourselves, and take certain measures locally to cut down costs and to pull back on expenditure and also to stimulate growth.”
“Public Works is one of the government departments that are being reorganized, as it had taken on more people when government was trying to give the economy the chance to recover. Accordingly, 15 persons, most of whom are over 50 have been let off, in an effort to make Public Works lean and productive”, Parry said.
He also revealed that NIA is putting in place a pension scheme for non-establishment workers, so that persons who worked for so many years will not be left destitute, or will not just be given gratuity but they are making sure that they benefit just like civil servants would.
Touching on statutory bodies, Premier Parry announced that a new bill to govern the Nevis Housing and Land Development Corporation (NHLDC) will be tabled in the House of Assembly, or the old bill will be modified when the House meets later this month.
He said that in the Corporation’s reorganization, the government seeks to put in place a system of operation, as the Nevis Housing and Land Development Corporation has not had proper accounting, reporting and management systems for the past 20 years, and all those systems need to be put in place.
“We are seeking to improve as we go along. We are seeking for changes; we are seeking to do things right,” said the Premier. “A study was done and that study has come back with recommendations which we are seeking to implement. We are looking at the garage, we are looking at the inventory section, we are looking at other sections of the Housing and Land Development Corporation, and some of these sections will have to go.”
While the Corporation’s inventory section will be done away with, the garage section may have to go somewhere, and Premier Parry proposed that people who have heavy equipment could be given the opportunity to purchase the equipment and operate on their own. The government will examine the administrative section to ensure that the work that they are supposed to be doing is being done.
The Premier also intimated that work will be done on the Nevis Electricity Company (NEVLEC) to find out if this government corporation is lean and productive, and if there would be any need for retrenchment. A similar exercise, Premier Parry said, would take place at the Nevis Air and Sea Ports Authority (NASPA) to ensure that it is productive and covering its expenses.
“The airport has not been earning as much money as it did in the past, but we all know the reasons,” Premier Parry told listeners his weekly radio program. “The fall-off in traffic is because of the state of the economy in the world, the downturn in tourism, and which we hope is coming back.”
Apart from the three corporations, NHLDC, NEVLEC and NASPA, Premier Parry, who is also the Minister of Tourism in the Nevis Island Administration, also looked at the Nevis Tourism Authority (NTA), which he said would be given a “breath of oxygen” as tourism is the island’s number one industry.
“Of course Nevis Tourism Authority has been through a lean spell for the past two years to the point where people say we have starved them out,” remarked the Premier. “We have to begin to let the oxygen in, into the NTA. Let them begin to breathe a little more because it is important to market tourism and promote the island because that is our number one industry.”
The Nevis Tourism Authority will as a result receive funds to enhance their marketing operations that mostly target American and European markets, noted the Premier, and also advised that the Nevis Four Seasons Resort has now agreed to make its contribution to the marketing of Nevis. He said the government will make sure that NTA’s marketing programmes are facilitated.