BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, OCTOBER 2ND 2014 (CUOPM) – The economy of St. Kitts and Nevis which registered a 3.8 percent growth in real GDP has outperformed several of its Caribbean counterparts and has emerged as a leader in terms of economic growth in the OECS.
Addressing stakeholders at the 17th Annual National Consultation on the Economy ahead of the 2015 Budget Address in December, Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas said the economy has rebounded and is set to deliver a second consecutive year of GDP growth in 2014.
“All things being equal, we hope to place the negative growth and other negative impacts of the past period of global economic recession firmly behind us. Judging from the performance of the first half of this year, I am confident that we can improve on last year’s performance and continue on a path of growth and development in the foreseeable future. While we focus on reviving and sustaining the pulse of our economy, my government continues to buttress the pillars of our growth strategy,” said Prime Minister Douglas.
He added that the expansion in the GDP continues to be powered through growth in the tourism sector, marked by a rebound in stay-overs and increasing cruise ship visitor arrivals, the strong positive impact of the People’s Employment Programme and a robust performance in the construction sector.
Dr. Douglas, who is also Minister of Finance, noted that the Construction Sector continues to be positively impacted by tremendous foreign direct inflows, implementation of private sector projects including hotel construction and several real estate development projects linked to the Citizenship-by-Investment (CBI) Programme.
He said equally important are the public sector construction activities including housing, and major road and drainage works that are taking place at several locations the length and breadth of St. Kitts.
The Prime Minister also reported that the manufacturing sector is also catching up with the growth trend.
He noted that at time last year, this sector was still suffering from a contraction in growth.
“However, a rebound is projected for 2014. Up to June this year, the Sector recorded growth in the region of 7 percent as a result of an increase in the production of beverages and electronic components,” said Prime Minister Douglas.
He noted that in 2013, St. Kitts and Nevis was again recorded as a leader among OECS countries in the value export of goods and services to the United States.
“The record show that this trend continues unabated in 2014. Even as we celebrate this noteworthy achievement, I want to challenge you to think outside the box so that we can strategise on ways in which the sector can be strengthened and continuously energised and thereby continue to stand firm as one of the pillars of the dynamic economy we are committed to building here in St. Kitts and Nevis,” said Prime Minister Douglas.
He said as the economy improves, his Government has continued to keep a check on prices. For the first half of 2014, the rate of inflation was recorded at 0.4 percent, reflecting stable prices for most goods and services in the local market place.
“It is also important for us to continue to develop an edge in agriculture in order to achieve an acceptable level of food security and to provide a shelter or buffer to our people from the fluctuations in food prices internationally. Towards this end, my government firmly believes that as we continue to advance our agricultural diversification programme and grow the Sector, our farmers will realize more and better opportunities for linkages with other sectors of the economy,” said Dr. Douglas.
He said that the Ministry of Agriculture will continue in its quest to boost crop production to the point where fresh locally grown food is available all year round at affordable prices.