In 2015 and 2016 St.Kitts and Nevis has reversed six long years of near-zero lethargic economic growth to record the second highest rate of growth among Western Hemispheric countries (6.6 percent). The IMF World Outlook Economic Database reveals that only the Dominican Republic is growing at a faster pace (7 percent).
The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean also reported St.Kitts-Nevis among the fastest growing economies in Latin America and the Caribbean and the fastest in Caricom.
The IMF reports that St Kitts and Nevis had experienced significant and sustained economic growth over the past 12 months. The officials further expressed that the robust nature of the Federation’s economy was rooted in strong performances from the tourism, construction and banking sectors. The IMF also commended the Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris led Team UNITY Government for pursuing a prudent and sound fiscal strategy that has led to a decrease in the debt-to-GDP ratio to levels that have not been seen in several years. Additionally, the officials applauded the Government’s commitment to transparency and accountability, and further noted that the restructuring of the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation was a step in the right direction.
According to the IMF, St. Kitts and Nevis’ debt-to-GDP ratio stood at 80% at the end of 2014. As at December 2015, the 61.64% debt-to-GDP ratio for St. Kitts and Nevis stood below the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) average of 76.04% and near to the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank’s target debt-to-GDP ratio of 60%. St. Kitts and Nevis is on track to meet the 60% target by year-end.
At a press conference on Monday (May 30), the prime minister quoted from a press release from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) issued at the completion of the 2016 Article IV Consultation in St. Kitts and Nevis conducted from April 20 – May 03.
It said that “macroeconomic performance remained strong in 2015” and the “economy grew at an estimated 5 percent, in line with 2015 Article IV projections, following two consecutive years of strong growth around 6 percent.” The release added that tourism, wholesale and retail numbers were positive and supported economic growth, inflation turned negative, and the “fiscal position remained in surplus at an estimated 5 percent of GDP.”
“We were the best in the region for 2015,” Dr. Harris said, comparing growth rates in other countries across the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU). The figures on economic performance also compare favourably to the wider sub-region. According to statistics from the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNECLAC), St. Kitts and Nevis was described as a leading performer among all countries except for Panama.
“Mexico, Jamaica, Trinidad [and Tobago], Brazil, Bahamas all of those countries come after us in terms of their economic performance in 2015,” Prime Minister Harris said.
The IMF projects that the positive trend will continue in 2016 .