St. Kitts and Nevis - Politics, government, and taxation

Since gaining its independence from the United Kingdom in 1983, the federation of St. Kitts and Nevis has experienced some turbulent political developments, particularly a concerted move by Nevisians to secede from the federation. There have also been political crises relating to disputed election results, alleged drug trafficking, and other forms of corruption.

In St. Kitts the main political party is the St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP), which won elections in 1995 and 2000. Dominant in the 1960s and 1970s under self-government, in 1995 the SKNLP replaced a coalition government headed by the People's Action Movement (PAM), which remains the main opposition party. In Nevis the main party is the Concerned Citizens' Movement (CCM), which advocates secession from the federation and is opposed by the Nevis Reformation Party (NRP). A referendum on the issue of secession was held in Nevis in 1998, with 61.7 percent of the electorate voting in favor (just short of the two-thirds majority required for constitutional change). Relations between the 2 islands are sporadically tense, with Nevisians accusing St. Kitts of benefiting from their taxes without providing adequate services from central government.

Since its election in 1995, the SKNLP has made progress in modernizing the country's economy and attracting investment in manufacturing, tourism, and financial services. The party differs little from the PAM in terms of its general pro-business outlook but has attempted to put an end to the alleged corruption and drug-related activity that occurred in the early 1990s. Then in 1994 several high-profile murders occurred and British police officers were invited by the government to assist with anti-drug operations. The main issue of political difference remains between St. Kitts and Nevis, a conflict reminiscent of Anguilla's rebellion in 1969, which was based on Anguilla's desire not to be part of a state with St. Kitts and Nevis.

The government of St. Kitts and Nevis is able to exert considerable influence on economic development with its management of the state sector (which includes the money-losing St. Kitts Sugar Manufacturing Corporation), its policies on foreign investment, and taxation. About the former, it has tried to increase foreign investment by offering tax concessions and other inducements to companies and individuals willing to invest in a range of industries and sectors. Government policy on taxation has been to increase needed revenue by spreading the range of taxation over sales taxes, property taxes, fees, and other taxes paid by foreign businesses. There is no personal income tax , but the government raised electricity and water tariffs and introduced a substantial rise in petroleum prices in 2000. The revenue earned through these measures was offset by falling income from taxes on hotel-room occupancy and other forms of tourist expenditure in the wake of hurricanes.

Country Telephones a Telephones Mobile/Cellular a Radio Stations b Radios a TV Stations a Televisions a Internet Service Providers c Internet Users c
St. Kitts & Nevis 17,000 205 AM 3; FM 1; shortwave 0 28,000 1 10,000 16 2,000
United States 194 M 69.209 M (1998) AM 4,762; FM 5,542; shortwave 18 575 M 1,500 219 M 7,800 148 M
Jamaica 353,000 (1996) 54,640 (1996) AM 10; FM 13; shortwave 0 1.215 M 7 460,000 21 60,000
St. Lucia 37,000 1,600 AM 2; FM 7; shortwave 0 111,000 3 32,000 15 5,000
a Data is for 1997 unless otherwise noted.
b Data is for 1998 unless otherwise noted.
c Data is for 2000 unless otherwise noted.
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [Online].

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