Economic diversification is an essential feature of development. As such, the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis has earmarked six key sectors for diversification and growth opportunities.
Among the six key sectors are agriculture; the medicinal cannabis industry; construction; tourism; manufacturing and the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programme – all of which were highlighted in the Appropriation Bill (2023), 2022 (Budget Address) delivered by Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Honourable Dr. Terrance M. Drew on Wednesday, December 14, 2022, at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort under the theme: “Towards Our Transformation as a Sustainable Small Island State.”
“Madam Speaker, food security is a high priority in our Sustainable Island State Agenda and has significant links to the expansion of our Manufacturing Sector and the creation of sustainable livelihoods. Our Government is committed to modernizing the Agriculture Sector and bringing it into the 21st Century,” said Dr. Drew. “We are, therefore, determined to ensure the repositioning of the Agriculture Sector to enable it to make a greater contribution to economic growth, employment, food and nutrition security, and overall sustainability of our country.”
As it relates to the tourism industry, Prime Minister Drew said that the “increased engagement by the leadership of the Ministry of Tourism and the St. Kitts Tourism Authority with key local and international stakeholders, has contributed immensely to a strong rebound.”
“Madam Speaker, it is important for us to understand that the Tourism Sector is a catalyst for growth in several other sectors in the economy. Thus, the rebound in the industry has potential to multiply throughout sectors such as wholesale and retail, and transport, storage and communication,” said the Prime Minister. “…The Ministry of Tourism is predicting that our destination will experience an influx of over 900,000 cruise passengers for the 2022/2023 cruise season. Our Government is standing firmly behind our tourism team and the many stakeholders who are working together to advance all aspects of the rebound in the sector.”
Prime Minister Dr. Drew said that the construction sector continues to play a significant role in the development of St. Kitts and Nevis.
“The Construction Sector, an important engine for growth and development here in St. Kitts and Nevis over the years, has contributed on average five percent to job creation and about 16 percent to our GDP. In the coming year, the Government will initiate the construction of the Renaissance Housing Programme,” he said. “Under this Programme, our Government will, over the next five (5) years, construct 2,000 energy efficient homes around the island. The National Housing Corporation (NHC) will commence the first phase of building in the first quarter of 2023 with the construction of 100 homes.”
Prime Minister Dr. Drew also touched on the revamped Medicinal Cannabis Authority which was installed with a mission to “regulate the Medicinal Cannabis Industry in St. Kitts and Nevis. He added that “it is the vision of our Government, through this Authority, to have a medical, therapeutic and scientific cannabis industry that creates equal opportunities, enables people’s health and wellness with safe and diverse products, fosters investor confidence and strengthens the St. Kitts and Nevis economy through an effective regulatory framework.”
Dr. Drew noted that the Government has “pledged its commitment to ensure that the manufacturing sector is developed as a central pillar of our economy serving as a greater contributor to economic growth. In our Government’s view, diversification of our economy is not optional. In fact, it is an essential pillar in the Sustainable Island State Agenda where manufacturing is seen as a vehicle for transforming our economy, creating sustainable jobs and a credible source for earning critical foreign exchange.”
Equally important, Prime Minister Dr. Drew said that the revenues from our CBI “have allowed our nation to thrive. It has given us the opportunity to advance our people without overreliance on international financial aid. After four decades of erudition and development, now is the time to ensure that the programme transcends to the modern age and the security infrastructure is enhanced and strengthened. In the same vein, we are seeking to ensure that our CBI Programme is mutually beneficial for all stakeholders, the people of St. Kitts and Nevis, investors, developers, local service providers, and international marketing agents.”