IMF Executive Board Concludes 2023 Article IV Consultation with St. Kitts and Nevis March 31, 2023

Washington, DC: On March 15, 2023, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) concluded the Article IV consultation [1] with St. Kitts and Nevis.

St. Kitts and Nevis’ economic growth rebounded strongly in 2022 despite global headwinds. GDP is estimated to have grown by 9 percent in 2022 after contracting 14.5 percent in 2020 and 0.9 percent in 2021. The lifting of all COVID-related travel restrictions in August 2022 sparked a strong rebound in the tourism sector and across the economy. The authorities’ proactive policy response, facilitated by the fiscal buffers accumulated from a decade of prudent fiscal policy, helped shelter domestic prices from high global energy and food prices. These measures nonetheless took a heavy toll on fiscal accounts in 2022. The primary balance ex-CBI revenue and land buybacks, an indicator of the underlying fiscal stance, deteriorated to a deficit of 17 percent of GDP (vs. 15 percent in 2021). Large CBI inflows in 2022 helped finance this expansion, keeping public debt below the ECCU regional target of 60 percent of GDP.

Return to the pre-pandemic activity level is expected by end-2024, and beyond that, growth should converge towards its medium-term path. The budget is expected to be broadly balanced through 2025 and then go into deficits—predicated on current policies. Risks to the outlook are tilted to the downside in the short term, but with some upside potential in the medium term. Downside risks primarily stem from a global slowdown, particularly in the United States, global inflation, and sustained commodity price volatility from lingering geopolitical uncertainty. The growing dependence on volatile and uncertain CBI revenue is a major source of vulnerability. But prospects for an acceleration of the transition to renewable energy and increased investment in resilience by the broader public sector could represent a material upside risk.

The authorities are committed to maintaining a prudent fiscal stance going forward. Small budget surpluses are planned for the next three years, supported by the phasing-out of electricity price subsidies and streamlining of income support measures. They reiterated their intention to undertake structural fiscal policy changes to reduce dependency on CBI revenues over the medium term. They also remain committed to investing in natural disaster resilience and climate change adaptation.

Executive Board Assessment[2]

The strong economic rebound in 2022 was moderated by tighter global financing conditions and high fuel and food prices. While proactive policies facilitated by accumulated buffers helped keep inflation under control, the fiscal measures have weighed on public finances. Strong Citizenship-by-Investment (CBI) flows cushioned the impact of higher expenditures on public debt but also increased reliance on these revenues. Looking ahead, as risks are tilted to the downside in the short run, Directors encouraged the authorities to pursue prudent fiscal policies, ensure financial stability, and implement ambitious structural reforms to boost sustainable and inclusive growth.

Directors concurred that the fiscal stance should be tightened to entrench debt sustainability, and noted the importance of the planned phasing-out of electricity price subsidies and other crisis-era support measures. Containing current expenditures, notably, the wage bill, will help create space for sustainable investment. Directors called for reducing dependence on CBI revenue, which would require an overhaul of the taxation framework, including reducing tax expenditures, streamlining VAT, reforming property taxes, and introducing a progressive personal income tax.

Directors emphasized the need for structural policies to strengthen competitiveness, labor market development, and diversification. They recommended higher resilient infrastructure spending and an optimal insurance framework against natural disaster risks and endorsed the authorities’ strategy to transition toward renewable energy. They supported the plan for a sovereign wealth fund to finance resilient investment and ensure adequate fiscal buffers. Directors welcomed efforts to improve the delivery and access to education and vocational training, which should be complemented by active labor market policies, to reduce skills mismatches and promote job opportunities.

Directors called for a re-assessment of the business model of the systemically important bank, noting that further progress is needed to de-risk its investment portfolio and reduce NPLs. They stressed the importance of ring-fencing public sector deposits from risks in any single bank. Close monitoring of credit unions and continuing to advance the AML/CFT agenda would be important.

[1] Under Article IV of the IMF’s Articles of Agreement, the IMF holds bilateral discussions with members, usually every year. A staff team visits the country, collects economic and financial information, and discusses with officials the country’s economic developments and policies. On return to headquarters, the staff prepares a report, which forms the basis for discussion by the Executive Board.
[2] At the conclusion of the discussion, the Managing Director, as Chairman of the Board, summarizes the views of Executive Directors, and this summary is transmitted to the country’s authorities. An explanation of any qualifiers used in summing up can be found here: .

St. Kitts and Nevis: Selected Social and Economic Indicators, 2019–28
I. Social, Geographic and Demographic Indicators
Area (sq. km)269.4 Headcount Poverty (percent, 2008) 23.7 
   Income inequality (Gini coefficient, 2008) 0.38 
Total (thousands, 2021 est.)53.5 Health and nutrition     
Rate of growth (percent per year, 2021)0.66 Calorie intake (per capita a day, 2011) 2,452 
Density (per sq. km., 2021)198.8 Physicians (per 1,000 people, 2018) 2.8 
Net migration rate (per thousand, 2014 est.)1.2 Access to safe water (percent, 2011) 98.9 
   AIDS incidence rate (per 100,000, 2016) 33.9 
Population characteristics           
Life expectancy at birth (years, 2021)71.7 Gross domestic product (2021)     
Infant mortality (per thousand live births, 2020)12.6 (millions of U.S. dollars)  860.8 
Under 5 mortality rate (per thousand, 2020)15.0 (millions of E.C. dollars)  2,324 
Adult literacy rate (percent, 2009)97.8 (US$ per capita)  16,076.7 
II. Economic and Financial Indicators, 2019—28
  (Annual percentage change, unless otherwise specified)
National income and prices           
Real GDP (market prices) 1/ 4.0-14.5-
Real GDP (factor cost) 1/ 4.8-13.4-
Consumer prices, end-of-period -0.8-
Consumer prices, period average -0.3-
Real effective exchange rate appreciation (+) (end-of-period)0.8-0.9
Money and credit 2/           
Broad money 5.6-
Change in net foreign assets 6.5-
Net credit to general government -9.5-18.4-4.8-0.9-0.6-0.7-
Credit to private sector
Nonperforming loans to total gross loans 24.023.520.922.0
  (In percent of GDP)
Public sector 3/           
Total revenue and grants 37.435.050.451.543.641.539.137.035.433.8
o/w Tax revenue 18.518.819.019.018.718.618.
o/w CBI revenue 14.811.323.325.819.
Total expenditure and net lending
Current expenditure 26.130.636.539.937.635.733.832.732.532.3
Capital expenditure and net lending
Primary balance 0.5-1.76.8-
Overall balance -0.7-3.15.6-
Overall balance (excl. land buy back) 3.5-3.15.6-
Overall balance (less CBI revenue) 4/ -19.2-21.8-13.4-22.3-18.1-18.0-17.9-18.7-19.7-21.1
Total public debt (end-of-period) 54.368.068.958.455.353.351.750.951.453.4
Public debt service (percent of total revenue and grants)
General government deposits (percent of GDP) 5/ 24.821.630.324.
External sector           
External current account balance -5.8-10.9-5.8-5.0-3.6-2.8-1.9-1.3-1.3-1.3
Trade balance -28.44.0-26.2-31.5-30.1-29.6-29.0-28.3-27.2-26.2
Services, net 24.219.424.029.529.730.130.330.329.128.0
o/w Tourism receipts 32.612.117.818.621.524.626.627.426.826.3
FDI (net)
External public debt (end-of-period) 12.715.
  (In percent of exports of goods and nonfactor services)
External public debt service
External public debt (end-of-period) 25.538.
Memorandum items           
Net international reserves, end-of-period           
(in millions of U.S. dollars) 346.3365.4312.8250.5247.1244.9243.1241.4239.6251.6
(in percent of broad money) 32.235.628.021.019.618.417.416.415.414.9
Holdings of SDRs, in millions of U.S. dollars 16.817.828.828.828.828.828.828.828.828.8
Nominal GDP at market prices (in millions of EC$) 2,9912,3882,3242,6282,8372,9733,1153,2653,4213,586
Sources: National authorities, ECCB, UNDP, World Bank; and IMF staff estimates and projections.
1/ In June 2021, the National Statistics Office revised historical GDP series.
2/ The series for monetary aggregates have been revised consistent with the 2016 Monetary and Financial Statistics Manual and Compilation Guide.
3/ Consolidated general government balances. Primary and overall balances are based on above-the-line data.
4/ Excludes CBI budgetary fees, and Investment proceeds and CBI due diligence costs.
5/ Includes only central government deposits at the commercial banks.

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