BASSETERRE: As a result of parliamentary approval of the 2015 Budget in the National Assembly last week, the ruling St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party administration is focusing on further developing the twin-island nation’s economy and reducing debt.
Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas said his government continues to reduce the national debt and is diligently working to achieve a debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio of 20 per cent by 2017, three years ahead of schedule.
Dr. Douglas said in a previous general election, one of the campaign slogans was “Progress, Not Promises”.
“Well, all of us in the Federation – whether we support Labour, PAM, CCM, NRP or any other grouping – know first-hand how consistently this government has delivered – how impressively we have brought real and constructive change and how consistently we have created visible and substantive progress,” he said during his weekly radio program, “Ask the Listener”.
Douglas told listeners that his government is continuing to work hard and achieve results.
“Responsible governments must work hard, yes, hard work by itself is not enough. There must also be the vision, the competence, the expertise, and the insight that make it possible to deliver as well. Without that, governments end up spinning their wheels but going nowhere – to the detriment and disappointment of the people.
“We therefore thank God for his mercies and guidance because not only has my government worked relentlessly on your behalf, we have, for example, approved some 15 construction-related projects that will inject more than US$570 million (EC$1.5 billion) into our economy, creating more than 3,000 jobs. Some of these you may be familiar with – like the refurbishing of the Kennedy Simmonds Highway, the creation of a tunnel at Timothy Hill in order to protect passersby from any threat of falling rocks, and so on,” he said.
Douglas said the local economy grew by 3.8 per cent in 2013 at a time when many countries in the region and around the world were experiencing difficulties.
“In 2014, our economy is expected to grow by another 4.6 per cent above that. We have a lot to be thankful for in this Federation. And this is not merely my assessment.
“The United Nations Economic Council for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) has declared St. Kitts & Nevis the fastest growing economy in the Eastern Caribbean and among the top in the entire Caribbean. This does not just happen. This is the result of insight, competence, and know-how,” he said.
The Prime Minister addressed the severe criticism of his government following an increase in the national debt and said it was necessary at that time for the advancement of the Federation.
“I assured you that our debt would be brought down. True to my word, our country’s debt is now down to 81 per cent of GDP. And it is important to note that although financial institutions would like the countries of the region to have a debt to GDP ratio of 20 per cent by 2020, St. Kitts & Nevis is on track to meet this target by 2017 – three years ahead of schedule.
“All of this is being done while keeping inflation low – 0.7 per cent in 2013 and by June, we had reduced it even further, to 0.4 per cent. Plus your government is saving the surpluses that our hard work has generated for a rainy day,” said Douglas.