Trending: Political Leader of the SKNLP Unveils Next-Gen SKN Plans in Parliament
Political Leader of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition, the Rt. Honourable Dr. Denzil Douglas announced his Next-Gen SKN Vision 2020 Plans for St. Kitts and Nevis in Parliament today during his response to the Appropriation Bill (2020), 2019. To thunderous applause from the gallery and a frenzy of commendations on Social Media, the Opposition Leader made the following statement:
“Mr. Speaker, the St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party, and you can take any period that we have held office, has always been an excellent steward of the economy. In fact, every progressive step that our country has ever made has been taken under a Labour administration. The 2020 Vision of the NextGen SKN Labour administration is designed to take our country yet again to an even higher level. At the center of our vision is our deep and abiding commitment to do all the good that we can do and put PEOPLE of our beloved country FIRST.
I want our citizens and residents, those at home and within our Diaspora to know that our BIG AND BOLD NextGen Agenda is all about YOU, the people of St. Kitts and Nevis! It is the result of extensive consultation with the people of St. Kitts and Nevis as we have canvassed the length and breadth of this country and our diaspora over the last five years. We have listened to the people, we have heard your deep desires and concerns and have been amazed by your ideas, your dreams and aspirations for yourselves, for your families and for your country.
This is why today, I use this occasion of the Appropriation Bill 2020 debate to provide the people with a glimpse of what the NEXTGEN SKN Budget and priorities would look like that would come into effect the minute that we take office. Our people have told us that their main priorities are in the areas of taxation, education, housing, employment and climate change.
So I will begin with some of our commitments for tax reform that would put money in pockets of our citizens and ease their burdens in areas that have been quite excessive.
- A NEW LABOUR ADMINISTRATON WILL: Allow one duty free vehicle for every adult over the age of 18! Traditionally duty free vehicles are automatically provided to government Ministers, Senior Civil Servants, select friends, and Diplomats. Now we are saying it is time we extend the privilege to all our citizens and residents so that you are able to receive one vehicle in your whole lifetime duty-free!
- A NEW LABOUR ADMINISTRATION WILL: Extend the full discounted VAT day package not just at Christmas but will to three times a year – Easter, Summer and Christmas. The days are aimed to alleviate the hardships felt by our single mothers and large families to accommodate back to school shopping with spin off effects on stimulating our small businesses and large retailers. The package will be designed as follows:
- Discounted VAT Rate Days, three times a year where all VAT registered businesses are allowed to charge VAT at a rate of 5 percent on the sale of goods only and all tangible items that are presently subject to 17 percent VAT qualify for the discounted VAT rate;
- For vehicle purchases, VAT will be exempt on the first EC$50,000, with VAT at the standard 17 percent charged thereafter;
- Barrels/E-container or D-containers of foodstuff up to 400 pounds in weight will be allowed free of duty and taxes, and travelers and non-commercial importers will receive a duty-free allowance of EC$540 or US$200 off the Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF) value of goods.
- All VAT on taxes will be eliminated – we will no longer tax our taxes!
- VAT will be reduced from 17% to 13%
- A NEW LABOUR ADMINISTRATION WILL: Implement a “START FROM ZERO”tax package to stimulate our small businesses that will include:
- Duty-free vehicle for all small business start-ups;
- Duty free on all equipment and furniture for all start-ups within the first year until the business is fully operationalized.
- We will “Start from Zero” – “Zero hassle. Zero duty. Zero application or application fees”. No longer will our small entrepreneurs have to endure the hassle to receive these benefits. This would be an entitlement.
- We will establish a Ministry of Small Enterprise, similar to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs. The Ministry will be created to give small businesses a voice and equip them with all the tools necessary to survive and thrive in a competitive environment. Presently our large businesses have representation through the Chamber of Industry and Commerce. Our government will be the champion of our small businesses!
- We will Review of the Unincorporated Small Business Tax by increasing the tax exempt threshold from $6,000 to $12,000 for all service providers and $37,500 to $50,000 for all retailers.
- A NEW LABOUR ADMINISTRATION WILL: Make AUTOMATIC to all registered and producing farmers and fishermen a duty free concession on seeds, agricultural inputs, vehicles, boats insecticides, pesticides, tools, agricultural implements – entitlement. This will no longer be provided on a discretionary basis. We will also re-introduce our Small Grants Scheme for our farmers.
Mr. Speaker, this coalition Administration under the Leadership of the sleepy Minister of Agriculture has virtually destroyed farming here in St. Kitts and Nevis. Our aim is to stimulate a second Agriculture Revolution that would guarantee food security here in St. Kitts and Nevis and stimulate the production of value-added commodities such as beverages, tonics, soaps, candles as part of the new Health and Wellness Industry.
- A NEW LABOUR ADMINISTRATION WILL: Construct 2,000 modern, affordable houses that will accommodate all the latest appliances and will be powered by solar panels;
- In an effort to provide assistance to our middle class as well as those in the lower-income brackets, we will offer diversified housing solutions using NHC as a coordinator, working with private contractors to build as well as finance construction on land already owned – We will establish a special unit to assist middle income earners directly.
- We will offer diversified housing solutions to meet people where they are. This would be specifically targeted at our young men who wish to use their own labour to enhance the family compound and/or acquire their own property by providing them with the necessary bundle of building materials.
- All essential service personnel such as our police, defence force, firemen and women, our nurses and sanitation officers will receive a housing allowance.
- IN THE AREA OF EDUCATION, A NEW LABOUR ADMINISTRATION WILL:
- Extend Universal, free education to the tertiary level – there will be NO TUITION to attend the CFBC;
- We will construct a new advanced level College in Nevis;
- Every student wishing to pursue under-graduate or graduate studies in a field necessary to national development will receive a GRANT OF EC$25,000.
- The interest rate on student loans at the Development Bank will be reduced from 9% to 5%
- We will provide debt relief to reduce the burden of student loans
- All primary and secondary schools will be upgraded and modernized to offer the best quality teaching and learning experience;
- We will build a BRAND NEW Basseterre High School at the Victoria Road location!
- We will introduce a Maintenance Policy for all schools to ensure that the present mold crisis never happens again!
- In the area of Health, A NEW NEXTGEN SKN LABOUR ADMINISTRATION WILL:
Construct a brand new, high-tech hospital;
Install an MRI machines, a new CT scan and increase the number of life-saving equipment (including one mobile unit) at our hospital and health centers;
We will re-introduce the stipend to incentivize our student nurses so they can earn as they learn;
We will provide scholarships and training opportunities for specialized nurses and doctors;
We will introduce a National Cancer Control Policy that will give cancer the same focus and resources that was given to HIV/AIDS that was incredibly effective.
We will introduce a comprehensive Universal Health Care package.
- In the area of Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation, A NEW NEXTGEN SKN LABOUR ADMINISTRATION WILL:
Introduce a “buy-back” tariff – where a direct cash rebate will be provided to households which invest in renewable energy for excess energy sold to the grid.
We will use tax policy to encourage persons to go green – solar panels, energy efficient bulbs, SMART meters etc.
We will implement a ban on single-use plastics;
We will explore various renewable energy projects that would allow the government to reduce its expenditure and dependence on fossil fuel. All government buildings will be fitted with solar panels to encourage energy efficiency
Mr. Speaker, this is just A TASTE of our NEXTGEN SKN economic plan for the people of St. Kitts and Nevis. It is a 2020 Vision that will PUT PEOPLE FIRST because national development is all about PEOPLE. It will put PEOPLE right where they belong at the very CENTER of development planning because there can be NO PROGRESS WITHOUT PEOPLE.
Mr. Speaker, our NextGen plans for St. Kitts and Nevis is not just a mishmash of capital projects like fixing up the Governor’s residence and renovating government buildings. Our NextGen plans will address the high cost of living and put savings in the pockets of the people of St. Kitts and Nevis. Our plans will have something in it for EVERYONE! This coalition administration is not really concerned about helping the small man! They are not concerned about narrowing the gap between rich and poor and expanding our middle class! They are not concerned about sustainability! Under the leadership of Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris our beloved Federation is going BACKWARD, but we in the St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party have the track record of progress and success as well as the plans and ideas to take this country FORWARD.
Mr. Speaker, today, I want the people of St. Kitts and Nevis to know that HOPE is on the way! OPPORTUNITY is on the way! RELIEF is on the way! The NextGen SKN Labour Party is the only party with the competence, compassion and commitment to give the people of St. Kitts and Nevis the FUTURE THEY DESERVE and help every man, woman and child to realize their dreams and aspirations for themselves, their families and their country. St. Kitts and Nevis cannot afford another five years of this selfish, uncaring, neglectful, incompetent and corrupt coalition administration. The FUTURE of St. Kitts and Nevis can only be SECURED WITH LABOUR!”