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Prime Minister Harris made this statement during his monthly press conference at Parliamentary Lounge, Government Headquarters, on Tuesday, March 15.
“We are experiencing in this Federation, one of the most robust and consistent growth rates in the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), in CARICOM, in Latin America and the Caribbean, not only in the Western Hemisphere, but we compare ourselves now with the rest of the world,” said Prime Minister Harris, referencing achievements highlighted in the Caribbean Development Bank’s (CDB) 2015 Economic Review and 2016 Forecast.
The finance minister gave a brief overview of the CDB’s report, noting that based on statistics, the Caribbean economy on a whole experienced a difficult year in 2015, averaging real growth rate of one percent.
“According to the said report, St. Kitts and Nevis ranked number one in terms of real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) performance, with an economic growth rate which they put at 5.2 percent,” said the Minister of Finance. “Positive trends in tourism which included increased visitor arrivals, combined with tourism related construction, all assisted in the improved performance. St. Kitts and Nevis was one of five countries in the region whose debt to GDP fell in 2015. St. Kitts and Nevis’ debt to GDP ratio at the end of 2015 stood at 64.2 percent, one of the lowest in the region.”
Dr. Harris noted that once there are no external shocks, the CDB has projected that the St. Kitts and Nevis economy will remain resilient with beneficial impacts from tourism and tourism-related investments.
“The region’s growth is projected to average 0.3 percent in 2016,” said Dr. Harris. “In contrast, the growth rate for St. Kitts and Nevis as projected by the CDB has been put at 4.5, second only to the Turks and Caicos Islands whose growth rate is projected at 5.4 percent. We are estimated then, to grow fifteen times the regional average of 0.3 percent economic growth.”
The Prime Minister stated that this is an outstanding achievement and with such an exceptional economic performance, the better quality of life or the Prosperity Agenda as proclaimed, becomes more realizable and deliverable every day.
Dr. Harris noted that a growing economy should provide jobs and more opportunities for entrepreneurship and self-employment. He noted that the Government continues to work diligently in delivering on its commitment and undertakings of the people and touched briefly on the Federation’s fiscal performance for 2016, namely January and February.
He noted that this performance reinforces the “optimism which is being shared with respect to the economy by entities such as the CDB”. The finance minister stated that data show that for the period January-February 2016, the Federal Government realized a recurrent account surplus of 56.1 million with recurrent revenue realizing 121.7 million.
“This compares favourably to the 2016 budget of 101.3 million and the 116.4 million that were realized for the period January-February 2015. What this is saying is that our performance to date is way above our expectations for 2016,” he said.