PM Harris announces Christmas stimulus package
BASSETERRE – Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dr Timothy Harris unveiled his Team Unity administration’s Christmas stimulus package last Saturday, which entails an extra month’s salary in December for all civil servants, auxiliary workers and pensioners on the government’s payroll.
“This pay-out will benefit not only federal employees and pensioners, but also those on the payroll of the Nevis Island Administration (NIA),” Prime Minister Harris said tonight during his National Address on ZIZ Television and Radio, noting that the Cabinet of Ministers took this decision last Friday.
“My government encourages all entities in the public and private sectors to make a very special effort to deliver a gratuitous payment to their employees in December. The Ministry of Finance will work with the CFBC [Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College] and other governmental agencies to make this happen.
“We estimate that potentially EC$30 million will be pumped into the economy as a consequence of this bonus by the government. The multiplier effect of this sum will be significant at this time of the year,” Dr Harris added.
The Minister of Finance expressed hope that the private sector would take a cue from his Team Unity Government and give a Christmas bonus to their employees.
“As the principal beneficiaries of consumer expenditure, we hope that our private sector firms will do more than the normal pay for their employees,” Prime Minister Harris said.
Dr Harris also sounded an appeal for charitable giving and fiscal responsibility.
Stimulus initiatives that were announced included:
– Gift packages of foodstuff will be allowed free of duties and taxes for the first 400lbs from Friday, December 9 to December 31, 2016.
– Travellers will receive a duty-free allowance of EC$540 00 (US$200.00) off the C.I.F. [cost, insurance and freight] value. This will also run from December 9 to 31, 2016.
Prime Minister Harris continued: “I am pleased to announce to all our stand-alone restaurant operators that the government has approved an extension of duty-free concessions, which are applicable every five years. These concessions apply to the following purchases: the purchase of food and wine, restaurant equipment, cutlery and glassware.
“I should note that the normal VAT rate of 17 per cent and Customs Service Charge at 6 per cent are payable on the importation of equipment, cutlery, crockery and glassware. Interested restaurant operators are asked to contact SKIPA [the St Kitts Investment Promotion Agency] on the 3rd Floor of the Cable Building on Cayon Street, Basseterre.”
Dr Harris reiterated the Discounted VAT-Rate Day is Friday, December 16. Last year’s Discounted VAT-Rate Day sales set a record since the initiative was launched in 2011.
The Minister of Finance and National Security also reminded the public that the government offers duty-free concessions on all safety and surveillance equipment for households and businesses.
“The security forces will beef up their presence on VAT Day, and every effort will be made to ensure the safety of our streets as people go about their legitimate business,” Prime Minister Harris said. (PR)