Uncertain times: St Kitts and Nevis government announces stimulus package

The St Kitts-Nevis government on Tuesday announced a multi-million dollar stimulus package to deal with the “uncertain times” as the twin-island federation puts in place measures to cope with the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Dr Timothy Harris, the Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis, said that the borders will be closed from March 26 until April 7.

St Kitts-Nevis is the only Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country that has not reported any case of the virus that has killed more than 20,000 people worldwide, and Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris told a news conference that the government had also decided to close down the island’s borders from 11.59 p.m. (local time) on Wednesday until April 7.

“The government’s stimulus package will cushion the impact of the health crisis and evolving economic crisis.”

— Dr Timothy Harris

He said the package of assistance “is nearly EC$120 million (and) represents the largest assistance package announced by any government in our region today.”

“In addition to current public assistance initiatives to which all affected are entitled to apply… the government’s stimulus package will cushion the impact of the health crisis and evolving economic crisis,” he said.

Harris said that among the initiatives will be a postponement of the payment of property taxes from June to September 2020, as well as the removal of value-added tax (VAT) and import duties for a six-month period on items such as hand sanitizers, wipes, rubbing alcohol, gloves and masks.

In addition, the government is also removing import duties and customs charges on vegetables, fruit, fruit juices and cough and cold medication for six months.

Harris also announced a waiver for the consumption of water for the period April to June for individuals laid off by businesses or experiencing a reduction in earnings. He said there would also be a reduction in consumption taxes from 33 to 25 per cent for the period April to June “for businesses that retain at least 75 per cent of their employees.

“This is a special and significant corporate tax reduction intended to assist businesses whose social corporate responsibilities are such that they will partner with the government and with their employees and help to keep them at work, at least 75 per cent of them, during this period of difficulty,” he added.

Harris also announced a reduction of unincorporated business tax with the rate moving downwards by 50 per cent to two per cent for the next three month period.