Team Unity government nears halfway point
By Valencia Grant, press secretary to the prime minister of St. Kitts and Nevis
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – Next month marks the halfway point of the Team Unity government’s five-year contract with the people of St. Kitts and Nevis, and the administration, led by the prime minister, the Honourable Dr. Timothy Harris, claims it has already accomplished quite a lot in advancing its “good governance and prosperity agenda.”
For instance, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) noted in its recently concluded 2017 Article IV Consultation that “St. Kitts and Nevis attained the strongest growth and fiscal performance in the ECCU [Eastern Caribbean Currency Union] region in recent years.” St. Kitts and Nevis’ economy achieved 3.2 percent growth in 2016. However, the difficult international environment has seen many nations struggle with constrained growth rates, including our major source markets for goods and services such as Canada (1.3 percent in 2016), Japan (1.0 percent in 2016), the United Kingdom (1.8 percent in 2016) and the United States (1.6 percent in 2016).
The IMF and the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) both say that St. Kitts and Nevis’ public debt is set to meet the ECCU’s 60 percent of GDP target in 2018. The federation’s debt-to-GDP ratio, which stands at 63.2 percent, is the lowest among the independent states in the currency union.
Team Unity said that, “in sharp contrast, under the Denzil Douglas regime, St. Kitts and Nevis amassed enormous debt, with the public debt-to-GDP ratio having ballooned to about 200 percent at one point. (Sourced from IMF Country Report No. 11/270).”
Remarkably, within less than two years, the Team Unity government said it has paid off the EC$117.1 million debt to the IMF. Harris said on Jan. 31 during the Good Governance and Accountability for Prosperity town hall meeting at the Cayon Community Centre that “We paid it off to bring an end to the national disgrace. Imagine that I paid off Douglas’ debt: $117.1 million – and I still come to the country to say, year after year, month after month, under my watch that the country is in surplus.”
Both the Caribbean Development Bank and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean have also commended St. Kitts and Nevis’ stellar economic performance. “We are top of the class, thanks to a Team Unity government,” said Harris, who also severs as the minister of finance. “We have been able to have that performance because the country is in competent hands.”
Harris, who holds a doctarate in accounting from Concordia University in Canada, has also said that “We paid a 13-month salary equivalent to an 8.3 percent increase…because the country is being competently managed. That will be part of our legacy. That is part of good governance.”