A government official described the meeting as a critical part of the budget-planning process within the Ministry of Finance and an exercise that presents the public sector with an opportunity to collaborate with their private sector economic partners, as they examine many of the financial and economic challenges confronting the state. The idea of the meeting therefore is to find solutions.
In the opening ceremony, President of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (CIC), Mr. David Lake, indicated that over the past few years, the Chamber of Industry & Commerce had used the forum to identify several areas in which meaningful change is needed in order to experience improvement in the economy.
Lake said that unfortunately many of these areas have either worsened or become stagnant.
However, the CIC President is of the opinion that if the private sector and the government work closely together they can overcome the challenges.
Speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Finance in the Nevis Island Administration Permanent Secretary, Laurie Lawrence stated that the outlook for Nevis is very bleak, as they are experiencing a decline in revenues, and are being forced to depend on internal resources because the debt restructuring has affected their ability to borrow.
He added that in Nevis they are desperately in need of an injection of resources and they intend to seek assistance from the Sugar Industry Diversity Foundation (SIDF), which is administered from St. Kitts.
Lawrence went on to say that they are facing a dilemma because they have to go through the process of fiscal reform, while at the same time trying to stimulate growth.
He also disclosed that despite St. Kitts meeting its targets under the programme by the International Monetary Fund, in Nevis they a barely meeting their targets and are only able to do so by restricting capital expenditure.
Delivering the main address at the ceremony, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. Denzil Douglas, told the audience that it is time that they bring all of their resources together to focus on the growth of the economy of St. Kitts and Nevis.
He encouraged participants to get fully involved in the discussions so that the end of the day, they would have been able to construct a blueprint that would lead to growth in the economy.
The Prime Minister also hailed the day as a significant day in the history of the Federation as they will review the policies, make changes and bring about new dynamic strategies that will propel the country into a brighter future.
The consultation is being held under the theme “The Challenge of Fostering Economic Growth given the Conditions in the Global and Domestic Economy”
Issues raised during the St. Kitts and Nevis National Consultation on the Economy are often featured in the Annual National Budget Address and Debate.