During a press conference this week, Prime Minister Timothy Harris provided an update on St Kitts and Nevis’ fiscal performance between January and April 2019. For the fifth year in a row, St Kitts and Nevis’ economic performance has continued its strong trajectory and has now set a new record for the debt-to-GDP ratio in the region.
In 2017, the Monetary Council of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) had set a goal for the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) member states to reach “the ultimate 60% debt-to-GDP ratio by 2030”. St Kitts and Nevismanaged to reach 62.3% in March 2018, a further 4.3% reduction at the end of last year, and a record 56.4% in March 2019. This makes the country the first ECCU state to reach its target and continue to surpass it steadily.
Recurrent, overall balance and primary balances exceeded 2018 figures, which is partly credited to efficient revenue collection and, importantly, better managed expenditure control. PM Harris clarified 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.” He further explained that this mattered also because “it was important that we send a message that we understood the consequences of an austerity IMF programme.”
In his address, Premier Harris also emphasised the success of the Caribbean Investment Summit which the islands hosted last month. The event coincided with the thirty-fifth anniversary of the economic citizenship industry, pioneered by St Kitts and Nevis. PM Harris revealed that the conference received positive feedback particularly as regards the high-quality panels, the in-depth discussions on due diligence standards, and the possibility of closer collaboration.
One of the contributing factors to St Kitts and Nevis’ economic improvement is its successful Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programme. Since 1984, the dual-island nation has been enabling foreign investors and their families to acquire second citizenship through an investment into its economy. In exchange for a minimum $150,000 contribution to the Sustainable Growth Fund (SGF), investors who pass all due diligence checks and requirements can benefit from visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to approximately 160 destinations, business and entrepreneurial prospects, and other opportunities. In turn, SGF funds are designed to support socio-economic development of the islands.