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Nevis Economy Shows Good Performance In 2007

by Amanda Banks,, London

18 December 2007

Laurie Lawrence, Financial Secretary in the Nevis Island Administration, has revealed that the island's economy performed well in 2007, and that the upcoming budget will focus on privatisation initiatives in a bid to accelerate growth in future years. However, he conceded that the government's debt is unlikely to be eradicated in the near future.

During an interview with the Department of Information, ahead of the 2008 Budget Address presentation by the Premier of Nevis and Minister of Finance at the House of Assembly Chambers in Charlestown on Monday, Lawrence revealed that there had been a net positive performance despite changes in policy. These included employment of persons in the social services as well as the issuing of duty free concessions to small business people.

"The economy has been doing quite well. The financial situation is still quite sound. For instance, if you compare up to November of this year with the same period of last year, you would find that we have increased our current revenue by about eight percent and last year during that same period, while we had a deficit of about EC$2.9 million on the current account, this year we actually have a surplus on the current account of EC$5.4 million," he explained.

Lawrence is of the view that the private sector should be the engine of growth in any economy and suggested that Nevis is no exception. He said that the concessions given to the private sector had created increased economic activity, which had also resulted in improved revenue for the government. He announced that the 2008 Budget would focus on entrepreneurship.

"We are in the process of preparing the budget for 2008 and what we are now seeing is a greater emphasis on private sector expansion. We have spent a lot of time over the years putting in place infrastructure and now we need to go to the next stage because that infrastructure has resulted in significant debt. We need the private sector now to start to take up the slack to relieve some of the pressure from government and the budget for next year is going to focus a lot on private sector expansion," Lawrence stated.

"The budget for next year is going to focus on Private Sector expansion and trying to nurture entrepreneurship especially amongst local investors and trying to attract foreign investment," he added.

Another area discussed by Mr. Lawrence was government debt. He explained that debts had been incurred from capital projects such as infrastructure development, but noted that once there was a surplus on the current side of the budget, the country's debt would be manageable.

"We could never really get rid of debt in small islands. The whole idea of debt is to keep it under control to try to keep it within a certain threshold and I believe with the private sector expansion we will be in a much better position to do that," he concluded.

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