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Basseterre, St. Kitts, February 01, 2018 (SKNIS): “Preliminary estimates for 2018 indicate that St. Kitts and Nevis’ economy will once again expand for the third consecutive year”, said Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris.
Prime Minister Harris was at the time addressing an audience during a press conference on Thursday, February 01, where he noted that for 2018 the economy is predicted to grow by about 3.7 percent.
“This excellent record to date compares well in contrast to the first three years of the last term of the bygone administration, which according to the IMF [International Monetary Fund] recorded negative growth rates in 2010, 2011, 2012 in the range of -3.8, -1.9, and -0.9 percent respectively,” said the prime minister. “For that we can see the IMF press release No.14/138 dated March 27, 2014). For the year 2017,we are recording an economic growth of about 2.6 percent which means that our GDP has now reach $1.86 billion as at the end of December 2017.”
Prime Minister Harris made mention of a number of sectors that showed significant growth.
“Notwithstanding the economic disruption and set back occasioned by two (2) category five (5) Hurricanes, the growth was impacted positively by a nine (9) percent expansion in construction services. Agriculture, we are proud to report, although still too small a percentage of the economy, it clocked in 14.3 percent growth and it was due in large measure to the better weather conditions boosting crop yields up to September 2017,” he said. “Growth in the hotel sector and financial services was marginal but positive at one (1) percent and 1.3 percent respectively. The wholesale and retail trade grew by 3.4 percent and public administration by 3.1 percent. Manufacturing declined by 6.5 percent as a consequence of adverse changes in the international market for our products. Of note however, that among the OECS States, St Kitts and Nevis has the highest per capita exports—the record as of 2016, the highest per capita exports in the region and the third highest exports per capita in CARICOM, outdone only by the Bahamas and oil rich Trinidad and Tobago.”
He described the growth as good news for a very small country “towering against the structural and systematic constraints of small size and limited resources.”
As the federation records its third consecutive year of economic growth, Dr. Harris noted that reducing the level of imports is a major challenge that St. Kitts and Nevis’ economy is facing.
“As a small state, deficit and our merchandise trade account is not unexpected as most of what we eat, drink, wear and utilize are imported. However, the sheer magnitude of food imports is a matter of concern. More must therefore be done to achieve higher import substitution particularly of food products. We have accordingly increased the share of monies going to the agriculture sector,” said the prime minister.
He touched on the allocation for agriculture, noting that the Recurrent Budget for 2018 represents a 30 percent increase in recurrent expenditure. He made mention of additional funds in the amount of US $241,000 that were donated by the Republic of China (Taiwan) for use in the agriculture sector.