BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, MAY 9TH 2013 (CUOPM) – A prominent International Monetary Fund (IMF) official has described as successful, St. Kitts and Nevis’ medical education industry.
Chief of the Caribbean 1 Division, Mr. George Tsibouris in an interview with WINNFM said St. Kitts and Nevis can build on its tourism industry by introducing other sectors like medical tourism as a means of encouraging economic growth.
“I actually think St. Kitts and Nevis has a very good tourism product to offer. That being said, just to give you an example, St. Kitts has been very successful in the medical education industry – several nursing universities, medical universities. Medical tourism could be a possibility. You have the closeness when it comes to location, you have the skill set of the people, you have customers from North America or elsewhere from Brazil…who would be willing to spend to come to St. Kitts and receive high quality medical services arguably at a lower cost that they would in their own home country,” Mr. Tsibouris is quoted as saying.
Mr. Tsibouris believes that despite the smallness of St. Kitts and Nevis and the challenges presented with having small economies of scale, the Federation can still become competitive.
“St. Kitts and Nevis will always be a relatively small country…that is sort of an indelible characteristic of that country. That being said you can still operate in a way that sort of harnesses your comparative advantage. That has something to do with competitiveness,” Mr. Tsibouris said.
He said shifting from types of employment that are labour intensive to service based, is imperative in developing small economies like St. Kitts and Nevis. He used Mauritius as an example that has a small country with a small population but provides services to an international market. He believes with the skill set of nationals, the Federation too can become competitive in the global market similar to Mauritius.
Asked if St. Kitts and Nevis is overtaxed, the IMF Chief of the Caribbean 1 Division said:
“I think that St. Kitts and Nevis, when you look at overall tax collections relative to GDP is not taxed too much,” Mr. Tsibouris said. I think it’s kind of at a level which doesn’t stand out as particularly high as tax ratio to GDP. That being said, St. Kitts and Nevis and many other countries have very important expenditure obligations, medical, education, social safety net, debt service, goods and services…to their credit, the fiscal accounts have been brought much more in order over the last few years.”
The IMF official explained that the level of taxation is relative to the government services offered. “There is always a trade off, you can expect or require more taxes in exchange for more government services so given the government services the level of taxation is not usually (high),” Mr. Tsibouris said.
List of institutions accredited by the St. Kitts and Nevis Accreditation Board are the International University of Graduate Studies (IUGS), the International University of Nursing (IUON) International University of the Health Sciences School of Medicine (IUHS), Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Medicine and Health Sciences (UMHS), Windsor University School of Medicine on St. Kitts and the Medical University of the Americas (MUA) on Nevis.