BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, APRIL 7TH, 2017 (PRESS SEC) — Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris told the nation during his press conference on Wednesday, April 5th, 2017 that, “Something good is happening in St. Kitts and Nevis.” This is reflected in the strong year-over-year financial growth being experienced by businesses operating within the Federation, including those that are locally owned, the Honourable Prime Minister said.

Concerning the St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank Limited and its subsidiary companies, Prime Minister Harris, who is the Minister of Finance, reported that, “The National Bank Group has recorded the best normal operating profit of $28.4 million being realized in its operation for the financial year ended in 2016.”

Dr. Harris added: “For the last five years, the National Bank Group recorded the following profits: in 2016, the best year, $28.4 million; in 2015, $25.8 million; in 2014, $25.3 million; in 2013, $22 million, and in 2012, $14 million.”

The Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis further stated that the Bank of Nova Scotia in the Federation also recorded its best financial year in 2016. Notably, too, The Banker Magazine, a publication of The Financial Times, named it Bank of the Year 2016 in St. Kitts and Nevis. According to The Banker Magazine, “Scotiabank [in St. Kitts and Nevis] achieved good results for the year…recording a near 60% increase in mortgages.”

Prime Minister Harris also disclosed that Ram’s Trading Ltd. is finalizing its 2016 accounts, which show the best fiscal performance in its 82-year history.

Referring to the 2016 Annual Report of S.L. Horsford & Co. Ltd. and its subsidiary companies (“the Group”), Prime Minister Harris said the Group recorded its highest profit and sales since it was founded in 1875.

S.L. Horsford and Co. Ltd. and its subsidiary companies also performed better in 2016 than they did between 2012 and 2015, as reflected in income before tax, profits retained, shareholders’ equity, dividends paid, and total assets.

Prime Minister Harris noted that, “As a former employee of S.L. Horsford & Company Limited and as a customer, I feel a sense of tremendous elation and satisfaction that one of our largest publicly traded companies could report its best performance ever in over 140 years. This historic achievement means a lot to my Government.”

Reiterating his Team Unity Government’s pro-business stance, which forms part of its prosperity agenda, the Honourable Prime Minister placed special emphasis on the nurturing environment that his administration has created to enable local businesses to thrive.

For instance, Dr. Harris announced during his press conference on Wednesday that his Government’s Fresh Start program has approved 507 loans for business owners valued at approximately $40 million, and $34 million of that amount has been disbursed.

Fresh Start, which is administered through the Development Bank, provides concessionary loans and technical assistance to entrepreneurs so that they can either start or expand their micro, small and medium-sized businesses.

During Wednesday’s press conference, Prime Minister Harris also mentioned certain initiatives for farmers, such as the forgiveness of arrears for rent of farmland, which have been spearheaded by Minister of Agriculture et al., Honourable Eugene Hamilton.

Also, farmers in St. Kitts no longer have to pay an annual land rent fee, which amounted to $300.00 each year per acre of land that they cultivated.

A new farmer registration process now sees persons farming five or fewer acres paying $150.00 per year. Under the old system, persons farming five acres would have had to pay $1,500.00 per year ($300.00 multiplied by five acres).

The new farmer registration process also sees persons farming between six and 20 acres paying $300.00 per year and persons farming 21 or more acres paying $500.00 per year.

Registering with the Department of Agriculture in St. Kitts gives farmers access to workshops, import duty waivers, and subsidized prices when purchasing fertilizers, feed, animal medications and other inputs.

“We support all businesses, but we have a special yearning to ensure local businesses succeed. We love local businesses, from the photo shop to the car rental to the supermarkets. We promised a prosperity agenda and during the last two years of our stewardship the country has been well managed, evidenced by a growing economy year after year rather than one that is contracting,” the Honourable Prime Minister said on Wednesday.

Indeed, Mr. W. Anthony Kelsick, Company Chairman and Managing Director, wrote in his Chairman’s Report for 2016 that, “The outlook for 2017 is for similar results as experienced in 2016 as economic growth is expected to continue on its current path.”