Declines in tourism and construction results in economic contraction, says PM

St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas is escorted into the 40th Annual Meeting of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) at the Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort and Hotel in the Bahamas Wednesday

NASSAU, BAHAMAS, MAY 21, 2010 (CUOPM) – The economy of St. Kitts and Nevis buffeted by the impact of the Global financial crisis and economic downturn, contracted by more than 5 percent in 2009, as a result of declines in tourism and construction.

“However, it is worthy of note that due to tremendous efforts at fiscal discipline we were able to achieve a primary surplus of more than 8 percent of GDP in 2009,” St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas told the Plenary Session of the 40th Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) in the Bahamian capital.

Dr. Douglas said St. Kitts and Nevis has achieved a fiscal primary surplus over the past five years. However this has not been sufficient to place the twin-island Federation in the fiscal position that is resilient and that provides room to maneuver when crises occur.

“The Government has recognized the need for even stronger fiscal adjustment in order to ensure the sustainability of our fiscal and debt position and secure the environment to foster economic growth. Therefore in our 2010 budget address we announced a series of measures aimed at closing the financing gap on the budget,” said Prime Minister Douglas.

He said that the measures include the implementation of a Value Added Tax on November 1st 2010, a wage freeze in the context of wider public sector reform, the curtailment of expenditure on goods and services and the rationalization of tax concessions.

“I wish to emphasize that each country must at this time consider its strategic options in light of its own vision for its people and the need for sustained growth and come up with a solution that is workable in its own context,” said Dr. Douglas.

“This is what St. Kitts and Nevis is seeking to do at this time. We have been creating several internal vehicles aimed at ensuring the engagement and inclusion of all citizens in the continuing process of nation building recognizing that it cannot be business as usual,” Prime Minister Douglas told delegates from all CARICOM member states as well as non-borrowing members from Canada, the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Mexico, China, Venezuela and Colombia and financial institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Prime Minister Douglas is of the view that developing small economies can learn from each other “as we seek to navigate these treacherous waters of crisis which was triggered by the malfunction of the financial sectors in the advanced economies.” He said he was certain that the Caribbean Development Bank given its position and role as a highly recognized and respected regional institution “can help to devise a home grown formula for cooperation and collaboration at this time and one that can serve as a benchmark for response to similar events in the years ahead.”

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