Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, met with the upper ranks of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to discuss a range of developmental issues and the support that the IMF can provide to further sustain the consistent economic growth of the Federation during a meeting on Saturday in Washington, DC.
Executive Director of the IMF, Ms. Louise Levonian, commended the St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister and his administration on its strong economic performance and reforms to mitigate fiscal risks according to the prime minister’s office.
The Federation’s efforts at building resilience to natural disasters, sustaining its fiscal and debt sustainability goals, overcoming financial/banking system obstacles and the importance of capacity development as a means of managing threats imposed by these risks were also discussed.
The prime minister highlighted the dangers of using the gross domestic product (GDP) as the key indicator in accessing emergency funding assistance after a natural disaster, reiterating some Small Island States like the Federation were unable to benefit from this funding due to their high GDP, and called on IMF officials to clinically examine other country benchmarks as a gateway for receiving emergency financial assistance after a natural disaster “while maintaining international good governance standards.”
The prime minister also met with Mr. Tao Zhang, Deputy Managing Director of the IMF. Discussions focused on the strong economic performance of the Federation’s economy and the avenues whereby the IMF can provide more support and engagement to the Government, according to the prime minister’s office.
IMF officials highlighted the Federation’s becoming one of the first Small Island States in the world to bring its debt-to-GDP ratio in line with the international benchmark of 60 percent, its visionary management of the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programme and the economy that has resulted in consistent growth of revenue inflows from year to year.
Mr. Zhang also used the opportunity to introduce the prime minister to the New Mission Chief for St. Kitts and Nevis, Ms. Aliona Cebotari, Deputy Division Chief of the Western Hemisphere Division. The officials held dialogue with the prime minister on the next Article IX Mission for the Federation as well as avenues for further technical assistance from the IMF.
Deputy Managing Director Zhang described the meetings as “timely and productive,” and thanked the prime minister for their discussions and reiterated the IMF’s commitment in sustaining and advancing the economic development of the Federation.
The Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis and the Honourable Allen Chastanet, Prime Minister of St. Lucia, joined leaders from the CARICOM region, other Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors from Small States for the forum at the World Bank/IMF Annual.
In a private meeting prior to the start of Saturday’s Small States Forum, Prime Minister Harris engaged in dialogue with UN Secretary-General, H.E Antonio Guterres; H.E. Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum of Fiji, Chair of the Small States Forum; and Manuela Ferro, Vice President of Operations Policy and Country Services of the World Bank about the vulnerabilities of small states and the importance and strength of small states voicing their experiences in an effort to raise visibility and collaboration in the call for greater resources to be made available to small island states, including the replenishment of International Development Association (IDA) funding.
The Small States Forum (SSF) provides a platform for policy dialogue among nations that share similar challenges and an opportunity to examine how the World Bank can assist in addressing their special development needs. The SSF comprises 42 countries whose population is less than 1.5 million and 8 members with a population greater than 1.5 million.
The UN Secretary General, Mr. Antonio Guterres, in addressing the opening session of the Forum reiterated his commitment to the development of Small States. The World Bank President, Mr. David Malpass, also joined the discussion, articulating similar commitment.
Leaders from several regional institutions also participated in the Forum, including CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque; Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), Mr. Timothy Antoine and President of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Dr. William Warren Smith.
The Prime Minister’s delegation to the Small States Forum included Ambasador Everson Hull, Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (OAS); Mr. Edward Gift, Comptroller of Inland Revenue; and Ms. Kemoy Liburd-Chow, Counsellor and Alternate Representative at the Embassy and Permanent Mission of St. Kitts and Nevis to the OAS.