BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, July 2, 2019 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – In 2018, St. Kitts and Nevis made headway by becoming the 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 percent.
That progressive and prudent management of the country’s fiscal resources continues to date under the astute leadership of Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, who announced earlier today (Tuesday, July 2) during his press conference that the country’s debt-to-GDP ratio declined even further to 56.4 percent for the period ending March 2019.
At the end of March 2018, the debt stood at 62.3 percent and at 58 percent as at December 2018.
Prime Minister Harris stated that, “The reduction in the debt-to-GDP ratio since December 2018 was attributed to the reduction in the debt stock by $67.6 million by March 2019 with projected growth in economic activities for the year 2019.”
Under the former administration, the country’s public debt ballooned to an estimated US$1.05 billion or about 200 percent of GDP. (Source of figures: IMF Country Report No. 11/270)
“St. Kitts and Nevis, under the discredited former regime, chalked up a debt which was the second worse in the world,” Dr. Harris reaffirmed, and noted that it was for this reason that shortly after assuming office in February 2015, his administration took the decision to pay off the remaining debt to the IMF (International Monetary Fund) to tune of $117 million.
“It was important to me and to our country that we send a signal that the era of squander mania and irresponsible management of the fiscal affairs would no more be part of the landscape of St. Kitts and Nevis. It was important that we send to the IMF and the international community [the message] that this new administration was confident of its ability to manage St. Kitts and Nevis, and to do so successfully. It was important that we send a message that we understood the consequences of an austerity IMF programme; it was important that we said goodbye to the pain of the haircuts that impacted our banks, our Social Security and our churches; it was important we say goodbye to that past,” Prime Minister Harris remarked.
The Monetary Council of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) announced in a March 2017 communiqué that its goal is for the ECCU member states to reach “the ultimate 60.0 per cent Debt to GDP ratio by 2030.”
St. Kitts and Nevis achieved this important milestone 12 years ahead of the target date of 2030.