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Retired Senior Economist Gives Glowing Endorsement of Douglas Administration

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Published 5 June 2018

Buckie Got It, St. Kitts and Nevis Source

by: Media Source

Retired Senior Economist Gives Glowing Endorsement of Douglas Administration

St. Kitts, Basseterre– Amidst the current controversy and media spotlight that has been cast on the economic woes occurring in Barbados, a former senior economist and adviser, Mr. Peter Adrien, made a presentation on national radio on Friday, June 2, 2018.  In his presentation, Mr. Adrian lauded the Douglas Administration for its commendable stewardship and management of the economy of St. Kitts and Nevis in the years prior to and immediately following the global economic crisis (2000-2015) that enabled St. Kitts and Nevis to emerge from the crisis stronger and better than most of the other islands in the English-speaking Caribbean.

“The figures coming from 2008 and 2009, the whole region, the whole world recorded negative growth … but when you look at St. Kitts [and Nevis] there were deliberate policies, whether it is infrastructural development, but I think a lot of that was the acceleration and the impact of the inflow of new monies that were associated with the Citizenship by Investment programme and how it impacted on both the real estate and the house scape.  These things did not happen by chance, while we saw St. Kitts [and Nevis] was recording high growth rates and were doing things, we look at the rest of the region, they were not doing well because a number of them were relaxing on getting transfers and subsidies from the rest of the world.  But very few of them, like in the case of St. Kitts and Nevis, actually did something different…You might have your own view on the product, but they actually came out with an alternative, a response, that is the critical thing”, said the economist who was senior economist at the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) and served as special advisor to St. Kitts and Nevis during the period 2012 to 2016.

According to the regional expert, much of the success of the present Team Unity Administration is due to the astute and innovative economic policies implemented by the previous Douglas-led administration.

“When you say better the life, when it comes to education, employment, the wage indicator, whether it is per capita GDP, whether it is debt overhang, St. Kitts and Nevis has no comparison in the Caribbean.  The data shows that St. Kitts, having been taken by the previous administration into a first world economy, it has remained there, and it is performing very well.  Standards in the area of wages, tax to GDP, area of per capita income, in the area of employment, St. Kitts is unparalleled by any other country in the Caribbean.”

Mr. Adrien’s statements are corroborated by data presented in ECCB database as well as the reports by the International Monetary Fund that shows that for the final fifteen years of the Labour Party- led administration, St. Kitts and Nevis experienced astronomical growth with highs of 10.69%, 8.77% 6.29%, 6.22%, 5.96% and 3.98% in 2000, 2005, 2008, 2013, 2014 and 2015 respectively.  With 4% growth being an exceptional achievement in the field of economics, this data evidences the stellar leadership and fiscal management of the Douglas administration and is testimony to the astuteness of its policy interventions implemented as part of its economic diversification programme.  The data also bears out that although current projections of 3.4% in 2018 and 2.7% in 2019 are respectable, it represents a steep downturn in economic performance when compared to the golden years experienced under the former government.

This decrease in GDP growth directly correlates to the significant drop in the contributions of SIDF receipts to the gross domestic product of the Federation.  In the case of the SIDF receipts, which were contributing to 14% of GDP in 2013, they are currently contributing a mere 2.7% and are projected to decline further to 1.7% of GDP in 2019.  This, Mr. Adrien indicates, does not portend well for the future of the Citizenship by Investment Programme and suggests that the present government needs to begin to consider new policy interventions to diversify the economy of St. Kitts and Nevis even further.

When asked what suggestions he can make for enhancing the economic output and outlook of St. Kitts and Nevis to make living standards better for the people, Mr. Adrien responded, “How can we make living standards even better, because they are already good! One suggestion for the future is that St. Kitts [and Nevis] has deliberately opted for the service economy, it did that when it closed the sugar industry… It did that. If you look at the way St. Kitts and Nevis inserted itself in the global economy, it has inserted itself in a very dynamic way in the global service industry. If you look at the varying  areas, banking, finance, travel industry, transport, communication as the GDP shows, whether it is real estate that is travel and hospitality, it would be difficult for you to attempt to remove us from the service economy.  What needs to be done therefore is [to] make that service industry increase local value added…”

One suggestion that was made by Mr. Adrien during the live broadcast was for interlinkages between sectors to be strengthened to increase value-added in tourism, the main economic driver of the twin-island Federation. With this suggestion, Adrienne further demonstrated the ingenuity of the Labour Administration which, in the last term of its administration (2010-2015) had already begun to put in place measures to achieve precisely what he was recommending by strengthening the nexus between tourism and other sectors such as education, sports, culture, nature, agriculture and fisheries.

Mr. Adrien’s endorsement is further proof that the St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party during its twenty years in office must be credited and commended for not only having the ideas, plans and competence to build resilience in the economy of St. Kitts and Nevis and respond quickly and creatively to exogenous shocks but also for having the foresight and vision to begin to futureproof the economy for the eventual phasing out of the CBI programme and prepare the ground for the continued diversification and strengthening of other sectors.

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