Harris who served a short time as the Finance Minister in the Dr. Denzil Douglas led St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party Administration, said for the last 4 years now the economy of St. Kitts and Nevis has been getting worse each year.
He argues that there has been “Negative growth after negative growth. Instead of moving forward we are going backwards. The hardships and harshness of life continues. Our people are suffering. The cost of living is too high. Our mothers and fathers cannot make ends meet. Poverty is increasing. Firms are not employing people. The arrears for electricity, water, mortgages are shocking. People cannot cope.”
It is his view that an economy that is not growing cannot produce sustainable jobs. One that is contracting obviously it will have fewer jobs for our school graduates, our college and university graduates, he added. “Our country needs a new vision, a new team and an economic programme to put the country on a sustainable path of growth and development”.
Quoting the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, which is headquartered in Basseterre, the St. Kitts-Nevis capital, Harris charged that the bank has reported that the economy underperformed again for the first quarter of 2013. This he said is according to the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) in its March 2013 Economic and Financial Review.
The ECCB in its report published in July stated that economic activity in St. Kitts and Nevis declined in the first quarter of 2013, said the former finance minister. This decline, he added, resulted from continued contraction in the construction sector and estimates of lower activity in the hotels and restaurants and manufacturing sectors. Harris claimed that the report showed:
- 42.1 (%) percent decline in capital outlays.
- 27.6 (%) percent decline in the importation of building materials, a proxy for developments in the construction sector.
- Manufacturing sector declined on account of lower levels of exports of machinery and transport equipment (16.3 percent) and a decline of 12.9 percent in export of miscellaneous manufactured articles.
- In our main growth driver, the first quarter January to March 2013, there was also a worsening situation relative 2012. Noteworthy both cruise and stay over arrivals fell. Stay over arrivals fell 0.7 percent to 30,759 for first quarter 2013 and cruise passengers fell by 20 percent with 56,293 less passengers. Increase visitor arrivals from the Caribbean, United Kingdom and Canada could not undo the decline of 21.5 percent on stay-overs from Europe and 4.1 percent fall in arrivals from USA totally 20,463. Tourist expenditure has fallen by 3.4 percent to EC $80.4 million in first quarter in line with married decline in cruise arrivals
- Agriculture and wholesale and retail trade sectors showed positive growth.
The state of the economy is expected to be one of the key issues in the upcoming federal elections that are anticipated for later this year.