Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris leads a delegation to the 31st Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), which will convene tomorrow, Tuesday, February 18th, 2020 in Bridgetown, Barbados.
The St. Kitts-Nevis delegation comprises the Premier of Nevis and Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Team Unity administration, the Honourable Mark Brantley, along with Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Kaye Bass and Press Secretary, Ms. Valencia Grant.
Prime Minister Harris and his fellow Heads of Government are expected to discuss CARICOM’s advocacy against blacklisting, de-risking and the withdrawal of correspondent banking services, which remain of special concern to the Caribbean Community.
Prime Minister Harris, who has been a leading voice in this respect, took the opportunity to address the dire impact of such restrictive policies during a stirring speech at the opening of St. Kitts-Nevis Diplomatic Week 2019 last April.
Back then, the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis said that, “Many of our national initiatives to secure resilience continue to be attacked and undermined through unilateral restrictive policies such as de-risking and blacklisting, which provide an impediment to further development by threatening our country’s financial inclusion and our people’s financial access to the global financial system.”
Prime Minister Harris added: “Such policies create urgent developmental challenges, particularly for us in the Caribbean, as research published by the World Bank in November 2015 found that the Caribbean ‘seems to be the region most severely affected’ by the practice of terminating correspondent banking relationships. Notably, 69 percent of the local/regional banks that were surveyed reported a moderate or significant decline in correspondent banking relationships.”
The Prime Minister further noted that, “This has sweeping implications, including on remittances and the incidence of poverty.”
The Heads of Government will also discuss their efforts to secure resilience in the Caribbean Community, such as digital transformation initiatives.
In St. Kitts and Nevis, Prime Minister Harris’ administration has been taking a steadfast approach on the digital front, and the results are palpable. Moreover, countries in the region now look toward the progress of St. Kitts and Nevis as a model.
In November 2016, the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, the smallest independent country in the Western Hemisphere, was honoured at the 14th World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Symposium with two awards for outstanding improvements in information and communication technology (ICT) development.
Under the leadership of Prime Minister Harris, St. Kitts and Nevis climbed 20 spots on the International Telecommunication Union’s ICT Development Index for the year 2016 – by far the most improved country.
In the most recent ICT Development Index, St. Kitts and Nevis ranks #37 out of 176 countries – the highest ranked country in the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and second to Barbados (#34) in the wider Caribbean.
Last year, the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis launched its Digital Transformation Survey to assist it in formulating its Digital Strategy and Roadmap that would implement the digital transformation of various government operations.
During his New Year’s Address on January 1st, 2020, Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris told citizens and residents of St. Kitts and Nevis that, “Your Team Unity Government has reduced red tape, making it easier for our citizens and residents to conduct their business even from the comfort of their home or office. We are the first country in the OECS to introduce and implement an e-services platform for the public to register and license new vehicles and renew drivers’ and vehicle licenses.”
This week’s 31st Inter-Sessional Meeting will also address the regional approach to the coronavirus, as well as non-communicable diseases. The Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis serves as Lead Spokesman for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) on Health.