By Caribbean News Global
BASSETERRE, St Kitts – Depending on personal, local and international intuitions, and government reporting on the true state of St Kitts and Nevis economy, there is the conclusion of a toss-up between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
St Kitts and Nevis prime minister and minister of finance, Dr Timothy Harris refuses to give green light for International Monetary Fund (IMF) visit for 2019 consultations, says opposition leader Denzil L Douglas.
“We understand from credible sources that the IMF’s Article VI consultations for 2019, which had been scheduled to be convened in September 2019 have been postponed indefinitely,” said the statement. Dr Harris has refused to release the 2018 report following a visit to St Kitts and Nevis by an IMF team in June/July 2018.
However, prime minister Dr Harris announced that for the ninth month in a row, St Kitts and Nevis had accumulated a surplus for 2019. And while “fiscal management has remained a top priority for the government,” says Dr Harris, “the island has welcomed several economic milestones credited to this commitment.”
The economic initiatives benefiting citizens and contributing factors include:
- The Poverty Alleviation Programme (PAP) which aims to help households earning less than EC$3,000 per month with an EC$500 stipend.
- PAP is sponsored by the country’s Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programme, offering the ‘Platinum Standard’ brand;
- The first independent state in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union to align its debt-to-GDP ratio below 60 percent ratio by 2030.
In 2017, the Monetary Council of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) set a goal for the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) member states to reach “the ultimate 60 percent debt-to-GDP ratio by 2030”. St Kitts and Nevis managed to reach 62.3 percent in March 2018, a further 4.3 percent reduction at the end of last year, and a record 56.4 percent in March 2019.
According to Dr Harris, “the reduction in the debt-to-GDP ratio since December 2018 was attributed to the reduction in the debt stock by $67.6 million by March 2019 with projected growth in economic activities for the year 2019,” emphasising that, “it was important that we send a message that we understood the consequences of an austerity IMF programme.”
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.
Wattley pointed out also that when the new Team Unity coalition led by Dr 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.
Last October, an international franchise closed its doors. “After more than ten years of operations in St Kitts, the franchise will close its doors on October 16. The owner did not go into detail about the reasons for the closure but thanked customers for their patronage over the years.”
Another manufacturing plant on the C A Paul Southwell Industrial Park closed its doors putting approximately 98 persons out of work.
“People are selling shares in the CBI programme. Shares are minimal in value and not enough to start up construction activity of new hotels. Although revenue is coming in from the CBI from fees being paid, what about the traditional spin-offs of employment opportunities from the construction of new hotels in St Kitts and Nevis,” Dr Douglas said.
Nevertheless, prime minister and minister of finance, Dr Timothy Harris announced, “using international economic classification, we recorded a surplus in our recurrent account, an overall surplus and a primary balance surplus. At the end of September 2019, the Federal government’s net fiscal position was significantly better than the budget forecast and the performance of the corresponding period of 2018.”
St Kitts and Nevis is heading to a general election early next year. Economic citizens of St Kitts and Nevis benefit from the same privileges as native ones, except for the right to vote. One of the main drivers of economic growth in the country is its successful CBI programme, the ‘Platinum Standard’ brand.
Earlier this month St Kitts and Nevis began accepting CBI applicants from Hong Kong, so long as they are of good moral standing and can make a qualifying investment into the economy, especially in times of critical need.
Foreign Minister Mark Brantley recently mentioned some CBI-funded areas: “the road network […] our healthcare sector, our electricity supply, it has all been improved dramatically because of the resources generated through the CBI programme.”
St Kitts and Nevis purportedly has extensive diplomatic relations, a growing economy, stability and high rule of law standards.
Regimes the world over with something to hide, systematically control what is not being said, and harness the power for their own means, by using state-backed disinformation.
As a result, with government access to all the information of a “constantly expanding economy,” that purports to “offer economic citizens benefits like security for one’s family, stability in the face of uncertainty, a safe way to secure a dual citizenship and alternative business opportunities”, it is conceivable, why full disclosure is vigorously guarded.