By Clive Bacchus
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The Nevis Treasury is still under tremendous pressure due to the impact of COVID-19 on the economy but Premier Mark Brantley is thankful that the Nevis Island Administration managed to keep workers employed.
“The Treasury, I’m still having the nightmares. They haven’t gone away because nothing significant has changed. We have struggled, but thank God through the grace of God and through our bankers who have been very lenient and cooperative with us. We have kept the lights on and we’ve continued to pay our staff. I’m proud as I stand here today on the cusp of our borders reopening after eight long months of our main engine, tourism, being closed that we have not laid off a single individual from the public service and at all of our public servants continue to be paid on time. And that is why I continue to beg of them, that they give of their best to the people of Nevis because they are in a very privileged position, not enjoyed by many others who have been home with no income for the past eight months. “
He said the NIA was now not in a position to absorb workers laid of the Four Seasons Resort
“Can the government absorb all The Four Seasons workers? The answer is no. We simply do not have the capacity to do so. What we, however, are agitating for is that they get their servants payment in a timely way, and it is our hope and through our discussions with Four Seasons, I made it clear that as business improves, they will continue to take on people; but their business level for their reopening on November 1st are not high enough for them to guarantee that they’re going to employ people at that point. But we are hopeful that as we now ramp up our advertising, our promotions that our hotels like the Four Season will be able to take back on staff that of course would have been terminated as a result of the long layoff. Let me, however, commend Four Seasons as a company. I thought they did an excellent job during this pandemic because they were able to pay their staff for the month of April in full for the month of May in full and I believe they made a 50% of the about payment in June. If memory serves as well and so staff were able to get two 2 1/2 months payment, even while the hotel was closed and did not have a single guest and that compares very favorably with what we’ve seen, even for other Four Seasons in the region where that was not afforded to their staff.”
Brantley said the NIA was optimistic that conditions will improve when the borders reopen on Saturday (October 31)
“Let us understand that for the past several months, our revenues have been decimated. I’m going through the budget process now, the estimate process, and this year we already off the pace by over $20,000,000. Which for an economy the size of Nevis is significant. So, we cannot continue to absorb persons and we cannot continue to carry the weight of some of the stimulus that we had announced. I know some people are saying … why can’t I continue to get this for free and that for free on the other for free? Well, it was free to you, but it was a cost naturally to the government and to the people and all of our utility, is all of our statutory corporations have been crying out because NHL this year would have offered moratorium on loans, payment of loans with people houses NEVLEC would have offered discounts to people and a moratorium to some. You had the Water Department where water was no practically free, so all of these things come at a cost, and so we now have to seek to right the ship.”