BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, May 18th 2017 – With the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicting a further contraction in the St. Kitts and Nevis economy, former Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas, has expressed concern over the future well-being of the ordinary people in the twin island federation.
“I am concerned about the welfare of people. I am concerned about the fact that if the government continues to misrepresent what is the true picture in the economy, then it cannot plan properly for the assistance and services required to provide for the people as they try their very best to improve the quality of their lives,” said Dr. Douglas during his weekly radio programme “Ask the Leader” on Kyss 102.5 FM.
In its just released preliminary Article IV Consultation, the IMF said the growth rate for St. Kitts and Nevis contracted, the overall fiscal surplus deteriorated, the overall balance remains in deficit, the current account deficit widened significantly, the external current account deficit should remain large and CBI inflows are expected to taper off. The IMF said that the St. Kitts and Nevis economy posted a modest 3.2 percent in 2016, compared to 4.9 percent in 2015 and 5.12 percent in 2014.
“If the government is planning on information that is already skewed, then proper planning cannot be done,” Dr. Douglas pointed out.
Dr. Douglas said he was concerned with the inability of the Team Unity Government to attract new foreign direct investment since taking office over two and a half years ago. He warned that unemployment among young people will continue to increase, criminal activity, which went up 60 percent last year compared to 2015, could skyrocket and hardship imposed on the people by new and increased taxes.
He pointed out that with the projected drop in revenue and the advice from the IMF to curtail expenditure, “less services and support will be provided to our people and they would be asked to pay more because the Team Unity government is trying desperately to paint a rosy picture, not motivated by the welfare of the people but motivated to give an erroneous picture to what the real economic situation is.”
He is of the view that adequate healthcare will continue to deteriorate with the hospitals and clinics unable to provide even the basic medication for diabetes and hypertension.
Dr. Douglas said the Team Unity Government will also continue to abandon social development programmes which helped students and young people.
“The Government will become constrained to give financial support to our young people to go off to study. Those who are already at universities and are doing exceptionally well will no longer be able to take up the academic opportunity offered by pursuing a master’s degree or post grad studies, as they will be told by the government they cannot support them financially and they will have to return home,” he said.
The former prime minister and minister of finance also predicted a rise in political tribalism, with the well-off who are supporters of the government, being given preference over the ordinary persons.
“We will see an increase in criminal activity including rapes, shootings, burglaries and robberies, resulting in a society living in fear,” said Dr. Douglas, who added that the Team Unity Government’s vicitimisation policy will also increase.
“Providers of families, especially single women, will no longer be able to feed their children, grandchildren, pay their rent or mortgage and utility bills,” said Dr. Douglas.