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International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This Selected Issues paper on the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) focuses on efficient, sustainable, and fair pension schemes. Despite recent reform efforts, the financial sustainability of the ECCU’s defined benefit social security schemes remains under strain, largely reflecting the still relatively low contributions and generous payouts. This, coupled with a rapidly ageing population and high labor market informality, increases the need for a comprehensive review and adoption of further parametric and non-parametric reforms of the pension systems to avoid abrupt and more sizable adjustments in the future as well as to reduce the risks of old-age poverty. This annex reviews pension schemes in the ECCU, with a focus on assessing their design and performance and identifying policy options to improve their efficiency, fairness, and sustainability. Key recommendations include swift adoption of further comprehensive reforms to address design weaknesses, improving coverage, investment strategy, administrative efficiency, and transparency, and establishing automatic adjustment mechanisms.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
The 2024 Article IV Consultation with member countries on common policies of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) discusses that the economies have registered a strong recovery after successive external shocks. Fiscal and external balances have improved, but public debt and current account deficits remain high. The financial system has been stable and liquid, although it continues to be confronted with asset quality weaknesses and rising risks in the non-bank financial sector. Longstanding structural challenges affecting private investment and employment create a drag on growth going forward. The regional priority is to rebuild buffers while protecting the fiscal space for priority public investment and social spending. Social policies and institutional labor market reforms would help improve competitiveness by addressing structural constraints to employment and labor productivity. Concerted efforts to address gaps in core economic data improve transparency and strengthen resource capacity for data collection would support calibration of economic policies.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This technical assistance (TA) report on Anguilla focuses on modernization of the customs legislative framework. The mission prepared a framework for a customs Act in line with the recommendations made in the Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Center (CARTAC) TA Assignment Report of April 2022. A major challenge for the customs administration will be growing the capacity to be able to deliver all that has been added into the Act. The full automation of customs procedures and implementation of risk management principles may also be a challenge. However, automation is the foundation of any customs modernization program. It is the key to move to a more efficient and informed administration of customs controls. The mission prepared a synoptic table highlighted by color codes to summarize the required, recommended and suggested additions to the Customs Act. The Synoptic Table list the general principles of the main provisions highlighted green in the draft Customs Act. These are listed in three categories, red, being principles that are required to be implemented; yellow, being principles that are recommended to be implemented and, green being those principles that are suggested to be implemented.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
At the request of the Eastern Caribbean Securities Regulatory Commission (ECSRC), a Monetary and Capital Markets (MCM) Department mission conducted a review of a draft version of the new Investment Funds Regulations (IFR) and Securities Regulations (SR) form May 20–June 30, 2022. The two sets of regulations are a key part of the new regime to govern the capital markets in the member territories of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU).
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This 2022 Article IV Consultation highlights that with Eastern Caribbean Currency Union economies slowly emerging from the pandemic with scars, the impact of the war in Ukraine is a setback to the nascent recovery. Higher food and energy prices, amid ongoing supply disruptions and intra-regional transportation bottlenecks, are raising inflation, eroding income, lowering output growth, worsening fiscal and external positions, and threatening food and energy security. The financial system has remained broadly stable so far, with adequate capital and liquidity buffers, but nonperforming loans remain high and could rise further following the expiration of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank’s loan moratoria program. The outlook is subject to large downside risks, primarily from further increases in commodity prices and new coronavirus disease variants amid vaccine hesitancy, in addition to the ever-present threat of natural disasters. The report recommends that maintaining fiscal prudence while protecting the vulnerable through health spending and temporary targeted transfers and enhanced social safety nets to cope with rising living costs. Adopting well-designed rule-based fiscal frameworks would help achieve fiscal consolidation, enhance resilience to shocks such as natural disasters, and preserve the credibility of the regional debt target.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This Selected Issues paper focuses on scarring effects of the pandemic on the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union’s (ECCU). Assessing the extent of the scarring effects is essential for the conduct of future economic policy in the ECCU. A better understanding of the factors affecting the scarring effects and their fiscal implications could help inform the discussions on policies needed to overcome them, especially for economies with limited economic diversification and high vulnerability to frequent shocks and natural disasters such as the ECCU countries. The significant output contraction would generate scarring effects in the ECCU countries. The degree of scarring could vary with countries’ economic structure and policy responses to the pandemic. ECCU countries need to balance difficult tradeoffs to mitigate scaring effects of the pandemic, other recent shocks, and limited fiscal policy space. In the short term, the priorities are to continue health spending to cope with the pandemic and use effective social transfers to cope with rising living costs. In the medium term, moving from income support and job retention measures to adopting active labor market policies would facilitate the reallocation of workers and resources to their most productive uses and help foster productivity growth.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
St. Kitts and Nevis entered the Covid-19 pandemic from a position of fiscal strength following nearly a decade of budget surpluses. A significant part of the large CBI revenues was prudently saved, reducing public debt below the regional debt target of 60 percent of GDP and supporting accumulation of large government deposits.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
The fallout from the COVID-19 crisis is hitting ECCU economies hard. Tourism receipts (accounting for nearly 40 percent of GDP) have dried up, as tourist arrivals have come to a grinding halt. The authorities successfully contained the spread of the virus at the onset of the pandemic by largely closing the borders, but a reopening of the economies since the summer has led to a surge in COVID cases. The ECCU economy is projected to contract by 16 percent in 2020 and by a further near ½ percent in 2021. Fiscal positions have deteriorated sharply, and public debt is projected to reach near 90 percent of GDP in 2021 and remain at an elevated level for years to come. Headline indicators suggest the financial system is relatively sound with ample liquidity buffers, but nonperforming loans are expected to rise significantly. The outlook is clouded by exceptionally high risks, including from the uncertainty concerning the evolution of the pandemic.