Basseterre, St. Kitts, March 25, 2020 (DBSKN) — Prime Minister and Minister of Finance with responsibility for the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr the Hon Timothy Harris, reported on Tuesday March 24 at his monthly press conference held at the Ocean Terrace Inn’s conference room that the government-owned bank will be offering relief to persons affected economically by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Under our leadership, the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis will facilitate a loan repayment moratorium for six months’ period and the waiver of all applicable late fees and charges to support their customers who are impacted by the loss of income due to COVID-19,” said the Prime Minister as he announced government’s 17-point fiscal and economic stimulus package.
The nearly $160 million economic stimulus package, which represents the largest assistance package announced by any government in the region to date, aims to help the country’s workers maintain their dignity and keep their heads above water as they weather the crisis in unity and solidarity with each other, according to Prime Minister Harris.
“The economic fallout from the pandemic is expected to be severe in the critical sectors of tourism and manufacturing, with our job creators that is our employees and small to medium businesses in particular being the worst affected by reduced income,” noted Dr Harris. “We feel for our workers, we feel for our taxi operators, and the wider group of hotel workers. Indeed we feel the pain of everyone whose life has been dramatically altered by the dangerous pandemic.”
Further relief will come in the form of additional funds, $5 million the government will invest in the popular Fresh Start Programme which is administered by the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis. These fresh funds will be used to assist the poor and marginalised youths by providing access to capital to fund small and medium sized business projects.
The government of St. Kitts and Nevis, further noted the Honourable Prime Minister, will provide funding also through the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis for mortgage loans to the citizens in the amount of $30 million. The Prime Minister added: “I am advised that the first tranche of this amount has already been made available.”
The press conference, was chaired by Deputy Prime Minister the Hon Shawn Richards. It was also attended by Senior Minister and Minister of Social Security the Hon Vance Amory, Minister of Public Infrastructure the Hon Ian Patches Liburd, Minister of Tourism the Hon Lindsay Grant, Attorney General the Hon Vincent Byron, Minister of State for Health the Hon Wendy Phipps, and Deputy Speaker Senator Akilah Byron-Nisbett.
Also present were Financial Secretary Mrs Hilary Hazel, Permanent Secretaries Dr Delores Stapleton-Harris (Health), Mr Andrew Skerritt (Office of the Prime Minister), Mrs Elreter Simpson-Bowne (Sustainable Development), and Mr Osmond Petty (National Security). Others were members of COVID-19 National Task Force led by Disaster Coordinator at NEMA Mr Abdias Samuel and Chief Medical Officer Dr Hazel Laws, and the Medical Chief of Staff at the Joseph Nathaniel France (JNF) General Hospital, Dr Cameron Wilkinson.