BASSETERRE, ST. Kitts – When the St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) Government of Prime Minister the Right Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas left office in February 2015, it placed into the hands of the new Government an “extraordinarily valuable gift” of notable achievements made over the years that have positively shaped the social, economic and political landscape for the betterment of the citizens and residents of the twin-island Federation.
The former Prime Minister the Right Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas and members of his Labour Party inside and outside of the National Assembly and on Freedom FM 106.5 “Issues” programmes have been listing over the past few months, several achievements including high-end tourism investment, education, employment and entrepreneurial opportunities, agriculture development, infrastructural development, home ownership, land ownership, renewable energy, health and technology which placed St. Kitts and Nevis with the highest rate of growth in the entire Eastern Caribbean, and one of the highest in the entire CARICOM region and number one in several other areas.
It is these numerous private and public sector projects as well as the ground laid and advanced planning in the cruise ship industry that have accounted for the increase economic activity and the positive growth the economy of St Kitts and Nevis has chalked up over the past years including 2014 and 2015 and projected growth in 2016.
The Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned the Harris Government that as the Labour Party initiated projects are completed, the St Kitts and Nevis economy will begin to decline or contract if PM Harris does not attract new Foreign Direct Investment.
Several private and public sector multi-million dollar projects which were under construction when the Labour Party left office mid-February 2015 include the Koi Resorts Sales Office by the Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport; the US$180 million Koi Residences at Half Moon Bay; the EC$27 million Imperial Bay Golf and Beach Residences at Half Moon Bay; the US$76 million Golden Rock Commercial Park next to the Airport; Park Hyatt St. Kitts and Christophe Harbour Marina on the Southeast Peninsula; the Regional Police Training Academy at Lime Kiln; the resurfacing of the road and erection of barriers leading from Frigate Bay to the South East Peninsula including the construction of the tunnel; Kittitian Hill Resort and Golf Course; the Rendezvous Hill, the Pelican Bay Development, which has become the Hilton/Embassy Suites; renovation of Golden Lemon Hotel, the US$40 million 246-room T-Loft hotel/condo resort at Pirate’s Nest in Frigate Bay, the Victoria Road Day Care and Pre School, the Mental Health Day Treatment Facility at Lime Kiln, the Delta Petroleum Expansion Programme and the near 90-unit housing programme around St. Kitts.
Projects which were ongoing when the Labour Party Government left office and have since been completed include the Ocean Terrance Inn (OTI) Renovation; the EC$103 million Silver Reef Development at Frigate Bay; the St. Kitts Solid Waste Management Corporation (SWMC) headquarters, the Victoria Road Day Care and Pre School and the Solar Farm on the Frigate Bay Road with plans to construct two additional farms.
Projects that were in the pipeline and have since started are the St. Kitts Castle at Frigate Bay and the US$40 million Heldens Hotel and Condo Resort between Newton Ground and St. Paul’s.
The projects initiated by Dr Douglas’ government continue to provide stakeholders including construction workers with a livelihood.
Last year, then Head of the St. Kitts and Nevis International Monetary Fund (IMF) Mission, Ms Judith Gold said St Kitts and Nevis economy has been the strongest in the region since 2013 but is expected to experience a drop in economic growth after the unprecedented construction boom with the completion in the next two to three years of several projects initiated by the past St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party administration of the Right Hon Dr Denzil Douglas.
Under the stewardship of Dr Douglas the St Kitts and Nevis economy grew seven percent in 2013 and six percent in 2014 and was expected to grow five percent this year.
Ms Gold says she expects economic activity in St Kitts and Nevis to decline after the projects are completed as the IMF is not aware of any new investment by the Harris/PAM/CCM administration.
“There have been a lot of investments to bring the economy to where it is now. It cannot continue to expand at this pace because it is expanding very quickly but the base is now wider, so it would need more investment to have it continue expanding at this pace. Because of the base effect we expect some slowdown in growth,” she told WINNFM’s André Huie last year.
She reiterated that as the past Labour Government’s initiated projects end, they will no longer be generating the same level of investments “so we see a slow down coming from six to five in 2015 to about three and a half percent in 2016, unless there is some new investment come in that we are not aware of yet.”
Ms. Gold suggests efforts will have to be made to fill those hotel rooms after the construction projects are completed and opened and to keep economic activity growing.