He said that he recognizes the importance of people in industry and commerce and the course that should be taken to advance the “national agenda”, and that out of this, the ordinary citizen and resident must share in the prosperity of a growth oriented economy.
“We want to ensure that as the economy expands, it is the private citizens and residents who are the ones who are taking leadership and ownership, and in that regard, we want to ensure that what has long been the prescription that the private sector becomes the engine of economic growth, that certainly, it could happen in St. Kitts and Nevis,” Dr. Harris stated, as he suggested that the Federation could be a model for the Caribbean.
The prime minister in his address to the business organization, commented on the recently concluded ECCU Monetary Council meeting, where he said “weighty matters” of the financial sector were discussed. He did so against the background of the global economic and financial situation, but focused on the high liquidity within the ECCU financial sector, as he suggested that commercial financial institutions should lend more, because of the socio-economic benefits that could be derived for the country.
“We are big on deposits. We are smaller on loans. We are smaller in terms of meeting the expectations of people, whose expectations have to be met if the country is going to advance and be transformed.
“I believe that it is now settled knowledge that money in the banks, whether it is Royal or National Bank, has no meaning unless they are being used for productive engagement in the society,” said Dr. Harris.
He further the point that in a context of $1.7 million laying idle in commercial banks, and loans not readily available, there is a disconnect between them and the “expectation of real people, for advancement, for participation and for productive contribution”.
CIC President Damion Hobson told the gathering that the AGM was special, for its anniversary, as well as the Chamber’s reception of the country’s newest prime minister.
“It ushers in the new Government of National Unity. The fact that the prime Minister, after less than one week being on the job, has found time to be with us today, as well as the fact that Minister Grant is on the job for less than three days is testament to the importance and role of the Chamber/Business Community in the National Development Plan,” said President Hobson.
He predicts that the year ahead presents opportunities for nation building.
“The year 2015 – 2016 will be a year of change, organizationally, as well as an opportunity for us as a Chamber to participate meaningfully in the national discussions and plans pertaining to nation building,” said Hobson.
[Editor’s note: Starting 1st March 2015, MiyVue.com would become MyVueNews.com]