Basseterre, St. Kitts, January 20, 2017 (SKNIS): Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, said that the economy of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis remains in good hands, while reporting on the fiscal performance for the period January to December 2016, during the first sitting of Parliament for the New Year on Friday, January 20, 2017.
Since assuming office in February 2015, Prime Minister Harris pledged to update residents and citizens alike on matters pertaining to the country as a means of practicing good governance, noting that it is important to continue along the path of transparency and accountability.
Dr. Harris noted that the preliminary fiscal outcomes for the year ending 2016 are “good news stories”.
“Preliminary data shows that for the 2016 fiscal year the fiscal operations resulted in a Recurrent Account Surplus of $128.3 million, an Overall Surplus of $130.3 million and a Primary Surplus of $154.7 million,” said Dr. Harris, adding that the above accounts form part of the economic classification data. “They are the principle accounts to which persons who do assessments of our country and every other country look for a measure of its performance. Yes, this is an international indicator of how well a country is managed and it is not unique to us, in fact, it is relevant to all countries.”
Prime Minister Harris noted that this approach is an example of how the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will be able to rank countries among other things in terms of whether or not they are high or low income.
“So, we are not an island onto our own and while we understand the importance of improving the quality of life and ensuring that every citizen and resident benefits. We also have to ensure that when the international community looks at us, we are proud of the conclusions which they reasonably can make because those conclusions which they make about us they basically make about other countries,” said the finance minister.
Dr. Harris reported that the Recurrent Account Surplus exceeded the 2016 estimate by $9.2 million or 7.7 percent. He noted that he was informed by the Ministry of Finance that the Overall and Primary Surpluses were higher than the Budget for 2016 by $52.7 million (68 percent) and $47.9 million (44.9 percent) respectively.
“Mr. Speaker, the fiscal data to which I have just referred are indicative of a country that is well managed. This is the reality that has been consistently confirmed by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF),” he said. “The country can then breathe a sigh of relief. St. Kitts and Nevis is in good hands. That is why we were the only country in the world that could have afforded to pay a 13 month salary.”
The prime minister said that his government promised to offer the best standard and that is exactly what is being done. He noted that this explains why he was able to provide the general public with an update on the fiscal performance of the Federal Government less than one month after the end of the fiscal year 2016.