In an effort to continue along the path of transparency and good governance, Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris has sought to update citizens and residents on the Budget preparation cycle for 2017, which runs from January to December each year and concludes with the presentation of the Budget Address and Draft Budget Estimates in the National Assembly.
Prime Minister Harris was at the time delivering his opening statement at the Prime Minister’s Monthly Press Conference on Wednesday, October 26, at Parliamentary Lounge, Government Headquarters. He noted that the National Consultation on the Economy and the Estimates Committee Meetings are two important events in the Budget preparation process.
“We are well on the way with the preparation of the 2017 Budget, having concluded the Estimates Committee Meetings which provided an important forum for information sharing, decision making and policy formulation,” said Prime Minister Harris, while adding that the meetings were held from October 12-14 with an aim to consider Budgetary proposals from all ministries for the upcoming financial year 2017. “The Cabinet is determined that the Government should continue on its path of fiscal prudence that has led to the realization of a notable surplus on the main fiscal accounts. In addition, the Cabinet has given a commitment that there would be a balanced Budget in 2017.”
The prime minister said that going forward priority would be placed on improving efficiency in the implementation of capital projects and the overall Public Sector Investment Programme.
“This will ensure that the Public Sector continues to directly contribute to the economic growth in the Federation,” he said. “The Cabinet has already approved a number of significant projects involving public infrastructure, education, and the health and security sectors will be pursued early in 2017. Additionally, our comprehensive housing programme will unfold in earnest in 2017 and in our budget address for 2017 we will make an important policy statement with respect to housing development in St. Kitts and Nevis, and the various avenues which we will go to ensure that the wide cross-section of persons at home and importantly abroad are able to benefit from property ownership in the Federation.”
Dr. Harris commented on the three main income generators in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.
“Our revenue would be enhanced by continuing reform initiatives with the Customs and Excise, and the Inland Revenue Departments and of course the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Unit,” said Dr. Harris. “We expect that the 2017 Budget will be delivered well in advance of the constitutional deadline and the constitutional deadline provides for expenditure to continue up to a period of 120 days from the commencement of the financial year which starts in January. So we are looking in practical terms up to April 2017, nonetheless, we intend by mid-December to deliver the Federal Budget.”