Basseterre, St. Kitts (WINN): Close to one hundred public and private sector individuals gathered at the Marriott Tuesday as part of the Government’s Consultation on the Economy prior to finalizing its December Budget.
That ceremony featured addresses from Chamber of Industry and Commerce President David Lake, the Permanent Secretary in the Minister of Finance in the Nevis Island Administration Mr. Laurie Lawrence and the feature address by Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas.
In his presentation, the Chamber President appealed for government action on a number of fronts.
“Reduction in the rate of Corporation Tax from 35% to 30%. Most of the successful emerging economies have rates of 30% or less, and we should fall in line. Removal of restrictions on capital allowances, implementation of accelerated depreciation, removal of restrictions on losses carried forward, removal of restrictions on bad debt, passage of legislation to address restrictions on donations, removal of restrictions on write-offs for employees earning in excess of $60,000 per year. This we believe would enable companies to attract premium talent at competitive salaries,” Mr. Lake said.
The Nevis Division of the Chamber also submitted their concerns according to Mr. Lake.
One he said was the lack of transparency in the investment of the SIDF funds.
“Of particular concern is…that funds are not being adequately invested in Nevis, despite the sale of Federal assets.”
Electoral Reform was another concern raised by the Nevis Division, Mr. Lake said.
“There…is a need to conduct a comprehensive review of the electoral practices in the Federation if we are to avoid the ongoing and continual controversy that we see after every election.”
The Nevis Division also expressed concern about the delay in the processing of economic citizenship applications.
“There seems to be no clear timelines on the processes of citizenship applications, and it is noted that persons who are willing to pay extra for their applications to be expedited are allowed to do so,” Mr. Lake said.
Following the presentation by the Chamber President, the Permanent Secretary in the Minister of Finance in the Nevis Island Administration Mr. Laurie Lawrence addressed the gathering.
He pulled no punches when describing the harsh fiscal realities facing the island.
“We have been experiencing declining revenues. We have had primary deficits from 2008 up to 2011. We have had to rely largely on internal resources because the debt restructuring is really affecting our ability to borrow,” Mr. Lawrence said.
“Having asked creditors to accept ‘haircuts’ on the face value of debts as well as the present value of debt of course they will be reluctant to lend for a period of time. So we find ourself in a position right now we have to rely on internal resources while at the same time…revenues are actually declining, and that is why in Nevis we are desperately in need of an injection of resources and we intend to look to the SIDF for assistance.”
For his part, Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas used the occasion to rally support for the economy after outlining the effects global recession has had on the country.
“It is obvious that we are operating in an era of dramatic, unprecedented and uncontrolled events, however, we have seen that despite this we have been able to record significant successes in the area of our fiscal and debt management,” Dr. Douglas said.
“We must now bring all of our resources to bear on the issue of growth. I trust that all of you will participate fully in the discussions which will follow each presentation and that at the end of the day we would have been able to craft together a path that would lead to growth in our domestic economy. As I indicated earlier, this is a significant day; a significant day in our history.”
The media were invited to cover the opening ceremony, but were asked to leave before the consultations began.
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