Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis – July 25th 2007 (CUOPM)
The St. Kitts and Nevis Chamber of Industry and Commerce is applauding the positive and sustained economic growth in the St. Kitts and Nevis economy.
Chamber President, Mr. Franklin Brand delivering the Private Sector Report at the Annual St. Kitts – Nevis Private Sector Banquet noted that a review of the statistics of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) illustrates that St. Kitts and Nevis appeared to have realised a growth rate of 4.6 percent in 2006 and that the IMF report also makes a projection of a 6% rate of growth in 2007.
“This picture is heartening, as it demonstrates consistency in the annual growth rate, given that in 2005 this rate was 4.5%,” said Brand.
He however expressed concern that the National Debt is still too high in spite of Government’s ambitious fiscal adjustment programmes and that much of this public debt ““ which in 2006 was 183.4% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ““ was attributed in large measure to the debt levels being carried by various statutory corporations.“The IMF report states that of this 183.4% debt 73.4% was directly attributed to statutory bodies,” said Brand, and reiterated the Chamber’s periodic recommendation to Government that all public corporations must endeavour to control expenditure while improving transparency and accountability.
The Chamber was in sync with Government’s position that debt management and reduction should be a constant focus, with accelerated reduction being realised when idle assets are divested as promised via Government’s Privatization Programme that has been in place for the past few years.
He pointed to the proven trend in the past several years under the Labour Government that much of the growth being experienced in the economy is the result of sustained activity in the tourism sector.
Mr. Brand said that the Chamber is of the view that as St. Kitts and Nevis further develops tourism and other related sectors, it is anticipated that this pattern will continue, within sustainable levels, of course.
He said that the tourism sector continues to demonstrate buoyancy, especially through the investment of both local and foreign investors with most of these projects currently in progress appear to be concentrated in the South East Peninsula, Frigate Bay and White Gate, and include Ocean’s Edge, Kittitian Hill and a major developmental project being undertaken by the Auberge Firesky group.
“The Chamber looks forward to the completion of these ventures for their positive spin-offs in job creation, foreign exchange earnings and expansion of our tourism plant,” said Mr. Brand, who further noted that coupled with the heightened activity in the tourism sector has been the sustained activity within the construction sector.
He also noted that much of the construction in 2006 and early 2007 was the direct result of Cricket World Cup 2007 preparations, resulting in St. Kitts and Nevis now positioning itself to take better advantage of the benefits of sports tourism, a goal which will be further enhanced with the completion of the new athletic stadium currently under construction in the Bird Rock Commercial District in preparation for the 2008 CARIFTA Games to be hosted here.