Prime Minister’s Message
It is a distinct honour for me to present the 2019 Recurrent and Capital Estimates which outlines the programmes, projects and other activities to be carried out by the Ministry of Finance during the 2019 fiscal year. The Estimates have been carefully developed to provide the Ministry with the necessary resources to fulfill its mandate. The Government continues to be strongly committed to pursuing the fiscal discipline and macroeconomic policies necessary to build momentum in achieving strong and sustainable economic growth, create jobs, reduce poverty and build resilience to cope with natural disasters and global uncertainties. In this regard, the Ministry of Finance will continue to play a lead role in the prudent management of the Government’s fiscal affairs. As in the past, we will strive to achieve surpluses on the major fiscal accounts and ensure that Public Sector debt remains firmly on a downward trajectory. This is important as the Government strives to reduce poverty and raise the living standards of our people.
During 2018, the Public Sector debt continued on a downward trend and I am happy to report that St. Kitts and Nevis is the first country in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) to have now achieved 60% debt to GDP ratio set by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank. This is remarkable especially when we note that global debt is at an all-time high and these elevated levels of debt is causing much concern in the international community. The good news is that our economy continues to experience positive growth. Judging from the latest GDP estimates, our economy is set to realize a growth rate of 3.2% by the end of 2018. Further, we expected this trend to continue over the medium term with a high GDP growth in the region of 6.3% in 2019. Based on the Revenue and Expenditure plans being proposed for the Government in 2019, we are projecting a Current Account Surplus of $157.5 million, Overall Surplus at $41.1 million and the Primary Surplus at $63.4 million. These surpluses will allow the Government to continue to build fiscal buffers and create fiscal space to support early response to external shocks, particularly those caused by natural disasters. The good fiscal performance of the Government has placed us in a better position to maintain essential public services and support the expansion of services to our people. Our good fiscal performance would therefore allow us to fund initiatives in various Sectors such as Education, Health, Social Development and National Security. We are also pushing forward with an improved social safety net system with an emphasis on poverty reduction and continue investments in public infrastructure development. We recognize that economic growth must be accompanied by social equity in order to ensure that all of our people enjoy the fruits of economic development.
During 2019, efforts would continue to develop the Growth and Resilience Fund using a portion of the resources saved in the Consolidated Fund. We believe that the establishment of such a Fund presents one of the best options for the Government to insure against future catastrophic events. This is important in light of the fact that St. Kitts and Nevis has been categorized as a high income country and is no longer eligible for concessionary funding even when faced with the challenges that emanate from the negative impact of natural disasters.
The strategic plan for the Ministry of Finance is aligned with the Finance Administration Act, the Tax Administration and Procedures Act, the Customs and Excise Act, and all other relevant regulation and policies of the Government.
I now take this opportunity to thank the staff of the Ministry of Finance, the Accountant General’s Department, the Inland Revenue Department, Customs and Excise Department and Financial Intelligence Unit for their continued hard work, commitment and dedication without which successes achieved in 2018 would not have been possible.
Dr the Honourable Timothy Harris
Prime Minister and Minister of Finance
Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes
According to the Saint Christopher and Nevis (Mutual Exchange of Information on Taxation Matters) Act, 2009, the Financial Secretary is the Tax Co-operation Authority (Competent authority) for the purposes of exchange of information on taxation matters between the Federation of St. Christopher (St. Kitts) and Nevis and other jurisdictions.
The Competent Authority is responsible for:
i. Executing requests for information for tax purposes;
ii. Ensuring compliance with TIEAs and DTCs;
iii. Advising the Minister of Finance on matters relating to any proposals or agreements for the provision of information in tax matters and;
iv. Making determinations as to any costs and the apportionment of such costs relating to or arising from requests for information.