The Eastern Caribbean Currency Unionis set to fall short of its 5 percent target,due mainly to the devastating hurricane season, with a projected growth rate of only 2.2 percent in 2018.
Following the most recent meeting of the ECCU Monetary Council it was revealed that the Currency Union would have grown at a slower rate of 2.3 per cent in 2017, as a result of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September of that year.
In addition, the fiscal surplus for the ECCU was estimated to have narrowed in 2017, partly attributed to a surge in expenditure following the impact of the hurricanes. For 2018, growth is projected at 2.2 per cent, still well below the 5.0 per cent target, however, projections pointed to an acceleration in 2019, a council statement read.
Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. Timothy Harris at a recent press briefing following the meeting saidthe 2018 projected growth is modest when taking into consideration the challenges that countries are still dealing with from 2017.
As of now, it is the best estimate that one can make at this time. These figures are likely to be revised as we move through the respective quarters.
We would see for example, how well member states that were disadvantaged as a result of the hurricanes; of how quickly they move to recovery and construction efforts, Dr. Harris said.
Dr. Harris added that after the repair efforts have been completed the region can be optimistic about the outcome of the growth figure.This is basically an average; so you are going to have some countries doing better than some and others not do as well as the 2.2 projected.
The Council also announced it has endorsed the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCBs) continued collaboration with The World Bank on the operationalization of the Eastern Caribbean Partial Credit Guarantee Corporation (ECPCGC).
According to a statement, The Council regards the establishment of the Corporation as a key instrument to support a strong, diversified and resilient financial sector and by extension, promote economic development within ECCB member territories. In this regard, the Council agreed to the establishment of the ECPCGC by July, 2018.
The Monetary council was also concerned with the difficulties with payment settlement of traders selling agricultural produce in Trinidad and Tobago. The Council further noted that the ECCB had submitted a feasible proposal to the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago since March 2017 and was disappointed that the proposal had not yet been accepted or an alternative proffered.
In the meantime, the Council was apprised of the recent steps taken by the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines to bring some relief to traders in an effort to manage the situation.
Earlier this year PM Harris said the economy in St. Kitts and Nevis will grow by better than 3.5 percent, bringing more jobs, higher incomes and many opportunities to our citizens and residents.
Several projects will be implemented by both public and private sectors early in 2018. P.M Harris said he envisions a Federation where its the best organized and managed state in the region.