ST. KITTS AND NE­VIS BE­COMES THE FIRST IN­DE­PEN­DENT STATE IN THE ECCU TO ACHIEVE 60 PER CENT DEBT-TO-GDP RA­TIO

The Star (St. Lucia) - Business Week - - US POLITICS & POLICY - BY OF­FICE OF THE PRIME MIN­IS­TER OF ST. KITTS AND NE­VIS

Bas­seterre, St. Kitts – The twin-is­land Fed­er­a­tion of St. Kitts and Ne­vis con­tin­ues to punch way above its weight un­der the lead­er­ship of the Dr. the Hon­ourable Tim­o­thy Har­ris-led Team Unity ad­min­is­tra­tion, be­com­ing the very first in­de­pen­dent state in the East­ern Car­ib­bean Cur­rency Union (ECCU) to bring its debt-to-GDP ra­tio in line with the in­ter­na­tional bench­mark of 60 per cent.

Ad­di­tion­ally, St. Kitts and Ne­vis achieved this im­por­tant mile­stone 12 years ahead of the Or­ga­ni­za­tion of East­ern Car­ib­bean States (OECS) tar­get date of 2030. At the end of De­cem­ber 2014, the coun­try’s debt-to-GDP ra­tio stood at 78 per­cent.

Prime Min­is­ter Har­ris, while ad­dress­ing the na­tion dur­ing his press con­fer­ence on Oc­to­ber 4, noted that this is a re­mark­able achieve­ment for St. Kitts and Ne­vis, par­tic­u­larly when one takes into ac­count the fact that the coun­try’s to­tal pub­lic debt rose to an es­ti­mated US$1.05 bil­lion: about 200 per cent of GDP un­der the pre­vi­ous Dou­glas-led ad­min­is­tra­tion. (Source of fig­ures: IMF Coun­try Re­port No. 11/270)

In ex­plain­ing how the Fed­er­a­tion got to this point, Prime Min­is­ter Har­ris said, “In prac­ti­cal terms, we paid off the in­her­ited out­stand­ing debt to the IMF of $117 mil­lion and to­day we are still in sur­plus. In prac­ti­cal terms too, we got to this mile­stone by mak­ing a sub­stan­tial pay­ment of $36.2 mil­lion on the land for debt swap ar­range­ment with Na­tional Bank. We achieved this mile­stone by pay­ing down a to­tal of EC$25.1 mil­lion on the amount owed to the Govern­ment

“Here in St. Kitts and Ne­vis, we are per­form­ing in su­perla­tive terms rel­a­tive to the rest of our peers in the OECS, CARICOM and in­deed the rest of the world,” said Dr. the Hon­ourable Tim­o­thy Har­ris

of Venezuela and of course clear­ing other sub­stan­tial debts of the for­mer ir­re­spon­si­ble regime.”

The Min­is­ter of Fi­nance fur­ther noted that the Team Unity Ad­min­is­tra­tion was able to bring the coun­try’s debt-to-GDP ra­tio in line with the in­ter­na­tional bench­mark of 60 per cent in spite of its com­pre­hen­sive re­sponse in the af­ter­math of two cat­e­gory 5 hur­ri­canes that ne­ces­si­tated un­bud­geted ex­pen­di­ture by var­i­ous min­istries.

“This Team Unity Ad­min­is­tra­tion paid dou­ble salaries back to back in 2016, 2017 and we hon­oured salary in­creases in 2016 and yet we are in sur­plus,” Prime Min­is­ter Har­ris added.

Dr. Har­ris dis­closed that the dou­ble salary was paid a to­tal of six times be­tween 1995 and 2014 un­der the for­mer ad­min­is­tra­tion and twice in less than 4 years un­der a Team Unity Govern­ment.

“Here in St. Kitts and Ne­vis, we are per­form­ing in su­perla­tive terms rel­a­tive to the rest of our peers in the OECS, CARICOM and in­deed the rest of the world,” said Dr. the Hon­ourable Tim­o­thy Har­ris

At the 73rd Ses­sion of the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly, Prime Min­is­ter of Saint Kitts and Ne­vis Tim­o­thy Har­ris called for ur­gent re­forms to make the United Na­tions more re­spon­sive to the needs and con­cerns of Mem­ber States, par­tic­u­larly small is­land de­vel­op­ing states.

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