CHARLESTOWN, Nevis -- Premier of Nevis, Joseph Parry, said on Wednesday morning during his address at the 29th independence anniversary ceremony that “the island of Nevis is not broke, in spite of what one might hear or what some may wish.”
Parry, who also holds the Ministry of Finance portfolio, told the audience that he did not ask any person to talk on his behalf at the recently held financial consultation in St Kitts, at which his financial secretary, Laurie Laurence, spoke on the challenging economic times that the island of Nevis has been facing, information that has elicited misinformation from certain persons to the effect that Nevis is “bankrupt”.
Parry said that the global economy has many countries facing difficult financial periods and some countries here in the region have been unable to pay their civil servants or pay them late, but according to the premier, “Nevis has been able to pay government workers and pay them on time”.
He said that Nevis is obligated to be part of a serious austerity program, not only to survive this recession, the worst since 1929, but to place the island’s economy in a position to absorb and survive shocks in the future.
“This is a work in progress,” stated Parry. “It will take time, but the government is making steady progress.”
According to the Ministry of Finance, for this year up to August, Nevis Recurrent Revenue stood at $79,072,272.59 and Recurrent Expenditure at $83,247,652.77 creating a deficit of $4,175,380.18.
He noted that the government meets payments on the domestic debt. He added: “When the restructuring is complete we would be in a position to cover salaries the domestic debt and other re-current obligations more easily.”
The question the premier asked was, “How do we continue to drive and expand the economy and how do we get funds for capital expansion?”
He informed participants that no longer can Nevis rely on grants and loans because no financial institutions will extend loans after the several rounds of haircuts and the insisting by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that Nevis balance their budget, take on capital funded projects and do it within three years.
According to Parry, two options have been brought up to help ease the financial challenges in Nevis but the premier has said a firm "NO" to both. The first has been to trim the government service and the second is to re-introduce personal income tax.
“The consequence of trimming the civil service will be that people would not be able to pay rent, pay their mortgage, feed their children, meet certain obligations and the economy will fall into a downward spiral,” observed Parry.
“For me to re-introduce personal income tax would be cruel and shortsighted in these challenging times as the people of Nevis would have less to meet their needs and a fall-off in demand will also cause the economy to shrink.”
He said that his Nevis Reformation Party-led Administration has pursued the path of growth through private sector development, both local and foreign.
As part of the growth effort, an oil storage plant is to be located in the Pembroke area.
“For those with raised eyebrows, be informed that St Lucia, St Eustatius and St Croix all have a similar facility,” the premier said.
Health tourism will receive a boost in Nevis with the addition of a cosmetology centre, a urology centre and a renal centre with a dialysis unit.
“The creation of jobs and much investment in the economy through the private sector means more economic growth and tangible revenue for the island of Nevis,” Parry stated.