Small nations must remain alert to the impact of the global economic crisis and be prepared to anticipate and mitigate the associated shocks

Press Secretary to the St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister, Mr. Erasmus Williams; Premier of Bermuda, Dr. the Hon. Ewart Brown; Clerk of the Bermuda House of Assembly, Ms. Shernette Wolffe; St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister, Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas; Speaker of the Bermuda House of Assembly, Hon. Stanley Lowe; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Astona Browne and Deputy Speaker of the Bermuda House of Assembly and former Premier, Dame Jennifer Smith.

HAMILTON, BERMUDA, MAY 25, 2010 (CUOPM) – Bermuda parliamentarians have been told of the need to skillfully and correctly identify and assess the threats to which global events may expose people of small nations and to move with dispatch and discipline to either eliminate or at the very least minimize the exposure to these threats.

Addressing the Bermuda House of Assembly, Prime Minister Douglas pointed to the complex and interlocking global economic crisis that is trashing and pummeling economies far greater than those of St. Kitts and Nevis and Bermuda.

“The economic dislocations being experienced in nations great and small, industrialized and non-industrialized have been documented and quantified. Unemployment in the world’s most powerful economy is high. Fiscal deficits are the order of the day in such countries as France, Germany, the United States, and the United Kingdom. The precarious economies of Spain, Greece, Portugal, and Ireland are being monitored – with great anxiety – literally minute by minute. The terms of trade available to the producers of primary products began collapsing years ago. And, as we speak, oil and natural gas, in volumes that experts are calling utterly catastrophic, continue to gush, uncontrollably, into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico,” said the St. Kitts and Nevis leader.

Dr. Douglas noted that it was not so long ago that the fate of St. Kitts and Nevis seemed to hang in the balance.

“St. Kitts and Nevis, long an exporter of sugar, and long operating within the preferential trading regimes established between Britain and her former colonies, was confronted with some rather stark geo-political realities. Like the producers of primary products the world over, it had become rivetingly clear to us that the emergence of a unified Europe, the creation of the World Trade Organization, and the subsequent dismantling of the trading regimes under which we had traditionally functioned, was sounding the death knell for sugar producers like us.

And so Mr. Speaker, my Government set out, in an internal atmosphere of great intensity and focus, to chart a new strategic path toward economic stability and growth, gripped, throughout the process by certain key questions:

[a] What would be the impact of the alternate economic models on levels of employment?

[b] What would be the impact on the national debt?

[c] What would be the impact on revenue generation for the Government, on the one hand, and spin-off opportunities for local entrepreneurs, on the other?

[d] To what extent would the alternate paths being considered facilitate the establishment of symbiotic and energizing relationships with such sectors as agriculture, construction, fisheries, the creative arts, tourism, manufacturing, and so on,” explained Prime Minister Douglas.

He added that his Cabinet not only had to grapple with these problems but had to do so while managing the conflicting needs for both speed and thoroughness.

He said that the experience in St. Kitts and Nevis was, in many ways, unique as the approaches chosen to address the challenges faced had to be equally innovative.

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