Basseterre, St. Kitts, October 15, 2016 (SKNIS): The economy of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis continues to see positive strides as stated by Hilary Hazel, Financial Secretary, during an interview with the St. Kitts and Nevis Information Service (SKNIS) on Friday, October 14. The Ministry of Finance, along with Cabinet Ministers, held Budget estimates meetings with various departments and ministries in Government over a span of three days.

She explained that the aim at present is to have a balanced budget, which refers to a where revenues are equal to expenditures.

“We do not want to enter into entertaining the idea of a deficit budget,” said Ms. Hazel. “We have maintained a very strong commitment to fiscal prudence and good financial management. Those are the hallmarks that are saliently running throughout the discussions [estimates discussions] and helping us to prioritize what are the needs and what are the critical things that we must invest money in.”

Hilary Hazel gave a breakdown of the projected growth for St. Kitts and Nevis.

“For 2016, we expect to have a growth rate of around 3 percent and that would grow a little further in 2017 to about 3.8 percent and then in 2018, we expect to see a growth rate of 3.9 percent,” said the financial secretary. “We are expecting to see a pick-up in construction, tourism and also real estate and the transport, storage and communication sector. We expect to have some upward movements and hopefully they will bring with them new jobs.”

The financial secretary noted that the overall revenue for government, tax revenue and non-tax together would reach around EC$700 million, whereas in 2016, it was estimated to be around EC$694 million.

“And of that, we are expecting programming expenditures for the recurrent in the region of EC$130 million thereabout and overall about EC$592 million,” she said. “Of course, if we are able to realize these expenditure, as well as the revenue intake, we would definitely be able to return a surplus.”