Officials discuss COVID-19’s economic impact on the Federation

Government ministers Hon. Lindsay Grant, left, Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris, center and the Hon. Vincent Byron, right, take notes during Wednesday’s meeting with CIC officials.

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts — Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, says his Government welcomes continued dialogue with members of the private sector on matters pertaining to COVID-19 and the local economy, particularly as his administration has long adopted an all-of-society approach to addressing the global pandemic and its impact on the Federation.

Prime Minister Harris made this remark during a meeting with Government officials and the executive of the St. Kitts and Nevis Chamber of Industry and Commerce (CIC) on Aug. 5 at the Ministry of Finance Conference Room.

In attendance at the meeting were Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Mr. Andrew Skerritt; Financial Secretary, Mrs. Hilary Hazel, and Chief Executive Officer of the St. Kitts Tourism Authority, Ms. Racquel Brown.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Hazel Laws; Medical Chief of Staff of the JNF General Hospital, Dr. Cameron Wilkinson, and Chair of the COVID-19 National Task Force, Mr. Abdias Samuel, were also present to give updated statistics on the local and global COVID-19 situations.

“COVID-19 is at heart, and still is, a health pandemic,” explained Prime Minister Harris. “Nothing has changed with in that regard. It started that way and it remains that way, except that it has now morphed into another crisis of an economic nature. We are attempting to meander the delicate pathways of a health crisis and a global economic crisis.

“We don’t think we have all the answers and so we welcome these kinds of dialogue in a sincere effort at partnership in a constructive way for national building,” he said.

Prime Minister Harris was supported in the meeting by his Cabinet colleagues Deputy Prime Minister, the Honourable Shawn Richards; Minister of Tourism, the Honourable Lindsay Grant and Attorney General, the Honourable Vincent Byron Jr.

During the meeting, the government updated Chamber officials on what is happening at the ministerial and National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) levels. He discussed protecting citizens and residents from the deadly virus, and moving closer to the eventual reopening of the Federation’s borders to international and regional visitors.

Dr. Harris said the Cabinet is on board for the opening up of the country, but insists his government will arrive at that point in a carefully managed way, taking into consideration all necessary guidelines and protocols.

“We want to open as soon as is practically reasonable to do so,” said the Prime Minister. “We have said we want all the critical stakeholders to begin the process of reorganizing their approach to business, their plans, their business places, their human resource training so that they can be ready for the opening up.”

President of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Mrs. Giselle Matthews described the dialogue as productive, adding that, “We leave here today with a whole lot of information. We thank you again for hosting us and for providing us with invaluable information [so that we know] there is a whole host of planning and strategizing going on behind the scenes for which we are very pleased to hear.”

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