by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN) – Ahead of the reading of the Federal Appropriation Bill for 2022 on Day One of the budget presentation, various public and private sector officials gave their expectations of the 2022 Budget in joint live coverage between WINN and ZIZ.
Premier of Nevis and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Aviation, Mark Brantley advises people to pay attention to the budget address to understand the financial performance of the Federation and what is planned for 2022.
“Will COVID impact the 2022 budget? I expect so. The reality is that growth is predicted, still to be a little anaemic due to the lingering effects of COVID. We are now seeing your variants emerging. We don’t know where those are going to eventually get to, so we have to be prepared. And I think that it behoves us to be cautious. And even though we’re optimistic to be cautiously so, COVID has demonstrated that it is unpredictable. So I think we have to budget with that in mind, that unpredictability and try as much as possible to cushion St. Kitts and Nevis from any effects of that. So I expect a sober budget, but one that should give some hope.”
The Hon. Dr Joyelle Clarke said she expects a responsive budget, especially regarding youth, climate response and responsibility.
“This budget, brought by the Minister of Finance must be responsive; it must be innovative, people-centred. It must speak to inclusive development; it must speak to sustainable growth. Now, having already seen estimates, I can say that my expectations aren’t fully met, but we are looking forward to the Minister of Finance, the Prime Minister’s actual budget presentation, which may clear of some of what we think are shortcomings as they deal with, you know, young people, ensuring that young people have a way out of this pandemic—ensuring that we have something that speaks to what I call our pandemic potential. What can we do not that we’re living with COVID-19? And importantly, how are we going to address issues like food security? How we’re going to address issues like climate change, climate adaptation, and appropriately climate finance so that we can start right here at St. Kitts and Nevis?”
Giselle Matthews, President of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, expressed some of the challenges that persisted throughout 2021 and expects the 2022 budget to help mitigate some of the challenges faced by local companies, especially small and medium businesses who have been struggling to get back on their feet.
“I would like to see more support to those businesses through government support, through interest rates are sustainable and moratoriums of possibly a year to 18 months that could allow these businesses to get back up operationally, and employ persons again and be ready for hopefully a brighter 2022.”
Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, the Rt Hon Dr Denzel Douglas, said he expects a budget better than the one presented in 2021, primarily related to the rebound of the Tourism sector and severe investment in Agriculture for the Federation’s food sustainability.
“What possible areas in particular that I’d expect something different? We would expect that the growth in Tourism would continue. Of course, back in 2015, when I left government, it was put on a growth path. We have seen it dip significantly, and we expect it is because of the COVID. Now that we have been able to remove the barriers, a lot of the barriers, and there seems to be the government coming to terms with the reality of COVID and living with it, I expect Tourism to begin to see the leaps and the bounds that we would have expected two years ago. Agriculture, significantly our people need to feed themselves. How can we best feed ourselves if we are dependant upon countries overseas to provide food for us when we have arable productive land here? I expect, therefore, significant input in the agricultural sector so that this can become a leading productive sector which is what we had anticipated when we left office in 2015.”
Prime Minister the Hon Dr Timothy Harris presented an EC$867.9 million Budget for 2021, and many are waiting to see what is in store for 2022.