Finance Ministry Secretary – Laurie Lawrence
October 04, 2010
The fourth annual Consultation on the Economy, hosted by the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) will focus on the economic growth and decline on Nevis, when the public and private sector meet on October 06, 2010, at the Occasions Conference Centre on Pinneys Road.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance on Nevis Mr. Laurie Lawrence, told the Department of Information on Monday, the event which will run from 8:30am to 5:00pm, will be held under the theme “Addressing the Decline in Economic Growth: the Nevis Case”.
He explained that the rationale behind this year’s theme was due to one of the worst recessions to affect the world since the 1930s, and was blamed for high rates of unemployment worldwide which highlighted the need for growth generation in the Nevis economy.
“In terms of Nevis in particular we suffered a double whammy with the closure of the Four Seasons, resulting in people being laid off; government’s debt increasing as it copes with the fiscal situation [and] the private sector suffering significantly, especially the tourism sector.
“So now with a lot of emphasis being placed on generating growth and trying to restore the equilibrium in the economy, we thought it best that we should be looking seriously in Nevis at how do we generate growth because for 2011,” he said.
Mr. Lawrence noted that growth generation would be the focus of the NIA, as it strived to put the island’s people back to work. He said the issue of diversification was important to the island as it sought to become less dependent on the traditional tourism.
The Permanent Secretary said it was of extreme importance that a plan of action would come from the conference, as to how growth in the Nevis economy could be engendered and employment restored.
He described the Conference as a formal mechanism for dialogue between the private and public sectors because the NIA had realised it could not solely be the engine of growth in the economy.
According to Mr. Lawrence, the private sector was a necessary ingredient in economic growth particularly in small islands like Nevis which had significant debts on their books. He said the NIA saw the need to put more responsibility on the private sector and therefore, wanted their input and to dialogue with them.
Notwithstanding, Mr. Lawrence said the conference would not be restricted to the private sector but would also involve a broad section of the community, which would include the Non Governmental Organisations and youths.
“This year we are hoping to have a contingent from the Charlestown Secondary School those persons who are doing Level 2 Economics. We want a broad cross section of the community involved, so that our approach could be holistic and that we would be able to come up with policies, not parochial policies but policies that take into consideration, the views and aspirations of a wide cross section of the community,” he said.
The opening ceremony would see a private sector prospective on the Conference theme and the way forward. The Federal Government’s prospective would be given by Prime Minister Hon. Denzil Douglas, while Premier of Nevis Hon. Joseph Parry will outline his policy to engender growth in Nevis for next year and the foreseeable future.
According to Mr. Lawrence, the first segment will be followed by several panel discussions. The first will be on “Taxation and Reforming the Tax System” which will be addressed by representatives of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Centre (CARTAC) and Mr. Edward Gift of the tax reform team in St. Kitts.
That session will be followed by “Addressing the decline in the Tourism Sector” and will be addressed by a representative from the hotel industry, the Tourism Authority in St. Kitts and an overseas representative with expertise in that particular area.
The topic “Addressing the decline in the Financial Services Sector” will follow and St. Kitts Nevis National Bank’s Mr. Edmund Lawrence, Ambassador Wendell Lawrence and Director of the Financial Industry in the British Virgin Island Mr. Robert Mathavious and a representative from the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank will address the topic.
The last session of the Conference would be on the topic “Looking New Avenues for Growth” which Mr. Lawrence said would bring all the topics together and focus the areas specific to Nevis that could be developed to engender growth. That session would have representatives from the Central Bank, the CDB and two private sector representatives.
However, a presentation on “The Fiscal and Debt Performance of the Nevis Island Administration” would also be made in an effort to provide the public with as much information as possible with regard to the fiscal situation in Nevis and the extent of the debt. Mr. Lawrence said he was hopeful that the discussions would produce solutions as to how that particular problem should be addressed.