BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, AUGUST 3rd, 2017 (PRESS SEC) – St. Kitts and Nevis’ economy has seen remarkable growth during the first half of the Team Unity Government’s five-year term. This is a marked contrast to the negative growth that marred the first half of the previous administration’s last term in office.
“We have grown the economic pie [GDP] by 9% from $2.3 billion as it was way back then in 2014 to $2.5 billion in our short stint at the helm of the government,” Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris said yesterday, Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017, at his press conference.
Gross Domestic Product, which is known simply as GDP, counts all of the output generated within a country’s borders. GDP measures economic growth based on the value of goods and services produced in a country during a given period. When GDP grows, the size of the economic pie does, too.
Imagine that the proceeds of a country’s economic output comprise a pie, which is carved up and distributed among its people.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Harris said that Kittitians and Nevisians’ share of the total economic pie has increased under his administration, as evidenced by the reality on the ground.
Prime Minister Harris pointed to Social Security data from 2016 that show the largest number of employees registered in any one year; the largest number of contributors on record; the largest number of jobs on record, and the highest annual wage bill on record.
These record job gains have spurred economic growth, for instance in the wholesale and retail sector, which grew by 9.13% in 2015 under the Team Unity administration compared with 0.35% in 2014 under the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour administration.
At yesterday’s press conference, Dr. Harris noted that, “RAMS reported its best financial year in 2016. Earlier this year, it opened a brand new supermarket – one of the best in the region…RAMS is expanding at Port Zante. Scotia Bank reported its best financial year in 2016…S.L Horsfords reported its best financial year, the best in 142 years’ history…S.L Horsfords and TDC are two of the largest companies in St. Kitts and Nevis, diversified as they are whatever happens to them reflects upon the health of the economy…TDC doubled its operating profit for the financial year just ended 2016/2017 from $5.5 million to $12.9 million, an increase of 137% in one year.”
The Honourable Prime Minister further noted that, “The automotive divisions [for TDC in St. Kitts and Nevis] sold more vehicles than at any prior period in its history. They did so well, according to their Directors, that Toyota and Suzuki commended them for exceeding sales targets…City Drug Store Nevis Ltd. and TDC Business Centre (St. Kitts) reported profit before tax 80% higher than…the preceding financial year 2015/2016. The number of flights handled by TDC Airlines increased by 20%.”
By sharp contrast, both the size and share of the economic pie were severely curtailed at various points during the previous administration’s last term.
For instance, Mr. W. Anthony Kelsick, Chairman and Managing Director of S.L Horsford & Co. Ltd. and its subsidiary companies, stated in his 2012 Chairman’s Report that, “The results for 2012 have been very disappointing as the economies of St. Kitts and Nevis continued their decline, which has resulted in the Group recording a significant further decline in their profitability.” The Group had negative retained profits in 2012 compared to the highest profit it ever achieved in 2016.
To get more perspective, consider that a publication by the International Monetary Fund (IMF Press Release No. 14/138, March 27th, 2014) shows that economic growth in St. Kitts and Nevis stood at negative 3.8% in 2010, negative 1.9% in 2011, negative 0.9% in 2012 and positive 1.7% in 2013 during the tenure of the Dr. Denzil Douglas-led regime.
“The contrast then is obvious,” Prime Minister Harris, who is the Minister of Finance, said yesterday, adding: “After the people made the change [in government], we had economic growth in 2015 of about 5%; in 2016, 3.1%, and our projection for 2017 is that we should average somewhere around 3%.”
The Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis continued: “I made reference to the growth in the economy because, in my view, it is the most fundamental element that would lead to the promised prosperity.”