BASSETERRE, St Kitts – Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris has been accused of destroying the strong St Kitts and Nevis economy that he inherited from the former prime minister and minister of finance, Dr Denzil L Douglas in mid-February 2015.
Douglas Wattley, former chairman of Harris’ co-ruling People’s Labour Party (PLP) said Dr Harris plunged the economy in a recession in 2017 registering a GDP of minus two percent.
“Nothing is happening in the economy. There is now, evidence that Dr Harris has pushed the economy into a recession as early as 2017,” Wattley told listeners to his popular talk show on Kyss 102.5 FM. He pointed to a graph from the St Kitts-based Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) that shows the economy registered a minus 1.98 percent in 2017.
“I am willing to argue that the recession persisted into 2018 and it may very well persist in 2019, but the Team Unity government do not want to release the figures,” said Wattley, adding: “Dr Douglas gave the man ( Dr Timothy Harris) a great economy which grew 5.38 percent GDP in 2013 and in 6.28 percent in 2014. It was an economy that was functioning like a well-oiled machine. It was clicking on all cylinders. The economic growth in 2013 and 2014 was significant and Dr Douglas lost the election. We gave it over to this man, Dr Timothy Harris. He run the ship of state aground, yet he (Dr Harris) wants another term and so many people out there are suffering. Timothy Harris does not want us to know and that is why we are not seeing the International Monetary Fund (IMF) report.”
Looking at the numbers which include the years of the financial and economic downturn in the economy which began in 2008, Wattley noted that St Kitts and Nevis, like many countries and islands around the world, was not spared the effects of the great recession with the local economy registering – (minus) 0.61 percent in 2010; plus (positive growth) of 1.83 percent in 2011 and – (minus) 2.23 percent in 2012.
Wattley further pointed out that under the Douglas-led St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party administration, “in 2013, the GDP went from – (minus) 2.23 percent to positive 5.38 percent. St Kitts and Nevis busted out of the recession well before the United States, looking good at 5.38 percent growth. That was not all, because in 2014, year-over-year, the GDP increased. The GDP was 6.28 percent,” said Wattley.
Wattley pointed out also that when the new Team Unity coalition led by Dr Timothy Harris took office in 2015, the economy only grew by 1.03 percent in 2015, 2.83 in 2016 and – (minus) 1.98 in 2017.
“That is a major contraction and we do not have a recession. There is no external shock that caused that to happen. The man (Dr Harris) just kill the economy just so. No warning. We not even going to talk about the figures for 2018 and 2019 because they have not been made available to us. I believe that the figures are just as bad,” said Wattley stating that in the first three years of the Dr Timothy Harris-led PLP/CCM/Pam coalition, the economy of St Kitts and Nevis grew 1.88 percent compared to 5.83 percent in the last two years of the Dr Douglas administration.
Pointing out that the IMF needs the permission of Dr Harris to release the 2018 Article IV Consultation on St Kitts and Nevis economy, Wattley said the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) do not need his permission to present data. In September 2018, Dr Harris refused to give the Washington-based IMF authorisation to make public the Article IV Consultation on St Kitts and Nevis economy. It remains inaccessible to the general public in St Kitts and Nevis, local businesses, students studying economics as well as local and foreign investors.
“The hard times that we are experiencing are directly linked to Dr Harris killing-off the economy. We really cut a whip to bruk in we own backside. We should have listened when Dr Douglas talk. He gave Dr Timothy Harris an economy that was cooking on gas. Now the economy cooking on wood fire and the wood wet. The fire not even blazing,” Wattley told listeners.
“While you and I got hard times, prime minister Harris and his family are not worried. They are enjoying their own economic growth. They are enjoying their own economic prosperity, but that it has not reached you,” said Wattley.
“Why would you give this man (Dr Harris) the economy to manage for another five years when in his first five years, he made a mess of things. He failed miserably and it is not me say so, it is the numbers that say so and the numbers are not wrong. He said he knew how to run the government and he knew how to run the economy, but he has failed. We have the evidence that he has failed,” said Wattley.