Opposition Leader says he wants country to “soar again”

By MyVue News.com Staff Reporter

Basseterre, 14th December, 2021 (MyVue News.com)-Leader of the Opposition in St. Kitts & Nevis, Dr. Denzil Douglas, while sharing his views about the Budget for 2022, said that he believes the Budget should reflect the government’s determination to live with COVID-19.

He was speaking ahead of the start of Tuesday’s Budget Presentation, which was hosted at the St. Kitts Marriott.

“COVID is reality. It is not gonna go anywhere. It is here to stay. And that is why I think an opportunity has been created for the government to restructure, reorganize and significantly make inputs to increase the productivity in our country, and thus put us on a growth path once again.” Stated Douglas, a former Minister of Finance.

Reflecting on the economic fortunes of the country over the past two years, Douglas opined that “We have dipped significantly and it is time for us to soar again.”

He said that the fiscal year 2021 has increased the hardship on the people of St.Kitts & Nevis, and this was seen coming out of 2020, once the COVID-19 pandemic had struck.

Douglas said he has been disappointed in the continuing difficulties that the country experienced in 2021.

“I am hoping, therefore, that now that the pandemic and its effect, or continual effect, that is, on St. Kitts & Nevis, in terms of the health crisis, in terms of restriction of people’s movement and the restriction of tourism’s continued development, I believe that we should expect something significantly better and different from this fiscal year 2021,” stated the former Prime Minister.

Douglas, who himself, from 1995-2014 delivered similar Budget presentations to the one made on Tuesday, 14th December, 2021, by current Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. Timothy Harris, shared three critical areas that he believes should be given priority in 2022.

These, he said are Agriculture, Tourism and the Youth.

He said that he expects that tourism growth will continue. He added that when he left the government in 2015, it (tourism), was put on a growth path.

“It has dipped significantly and we expect it is because of the COVID,” said the Opposition Leader.

But he added that “now that we have been able to remove the barrier, a lot of the barriers, and the government is coming to terms with the reality of COVID, and living with it, I expect tourism to begin to see the leaps and bounds that we would have expected, two years ago.”

In terms of agriculture, the Labour Leader is calling for major investments in this area. Significantly, said Douglas, the people of St. Kitts & Nevis need to feed themselves.

“How can we best feed ourselves if we are dependent upon countries overseas to provide food for us when we have arable (and) productive land here. I expect a more significant input into the agricultural sector, which is what we had anticipated when we left office in 2015,” argued Douglas.

In the area of youth development, Douglas said he is anticipating more creativity and innovation and the use of technology, in the education sector.

“The digitalization that we expect should now be in place and I expect to see that in the 2022 Budget,” said the Member of Parliament for Constituency Six.

Now that the Minister of Finance and Prime Minister has presented the broad outlines for the fiscal year 2022, Dr. Douglas as Leader of the Opposition will have the opportunity, with equal time, to make his official response on Wednesday, 15th December.

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