BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, (Thursday, December 17, 2020) — With the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic expected to spill over into the new year, the government of St. Kitts and Nevis has taken the proactive decision to extend nine of the 17 measures, outlined in its comprehensive $120-million stimulus package that was introduced in March of this year.
This was one of the major initiatives, outlined by Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. Timothy Harris, when he presented the tax-free 2021 Budget on Tuesday.
The nine stimulus interventions that were extended are:
> The removal of VAT and Import Duty until June 2021 on the additional hygiene items such as hand sanitizers, hand sanitizer dispensing machines, disinfecting wipes, rubbing alcohol, gloves, masks, protective gowns;
> The removal of Import Duty and Customs Service Charge until June 2021 on vegetables, fruits, fruit juices, cough and cold preparations, vitamins;
> Waiver of payments for consumption of water until June 2021 for individuals who have been laid off by businesses or experience a reduction in earnings as a consequence of COVID-19;
> 24 percent reduction of the Corporate Income Tax rate from 33 percent to 25 percent until June 2021 for businesses that retain at least 75 percent of their employees;
> Reduction of the Unincorporated Business Tax rate by 50 percent from 4.0 percent to 2.0 percent for until June 2021;
> Injection of an additional $5 million stimulus over two years to boost production in the Agriculture Sector and ensure greater food security for the Federation;
> Waiver of payments for the consumption of water by farmers until June 2021;
> Provision of an additional $3 million above the amount provided in the 2020 Estimates to support the Poverty Alleviation Program, which would allow for the additional of some 500 persons should their socio-economic situation warrant it;
> and the provision of additional resources in the region of $7 million to further capitalize the Severance Payment Fund in 2021 and facilitate the payment of severance claims.
In making the announcement, Prime Minister Harris stated that, “We believe, Mr. Speaker, that the extension of these measures would help to advance the recovery process and, most importantly, it would extend important lifelines to affected families and businesses.”
The extension of these measures have been welcomed by the St. Kitts and Nevis Chamber of Industry and Commerce, with its President, Giselle Matthews, stating that these will help to regenerate the Federation’s economy.