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.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This 2015 Article IV Consultation highlights that the economic situation of St. Kitts and Nevis has continued to improve since the completion of the IMF-supported home-grown economic program in July 2014. Continued rapid inflows under the Citizenship-By Investment program have led to a surge in construction activity, and supported a large increase in government and Sugar Industry Diversification Fund investments and spending, including on the People Employment Program. These factors, together with the ongoing recovery in tourist arrivals fueled rapid GDP growth of about 6 percent in 2013 and 2014. The near-term outlook remains strong, but there are risks on the horizon.
Real regional gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by 6 percent in 2009, reflecting a collapse in tourist arrivals and foreign direct investment (FDI)-financed construction activity. The global financial and economic crisis has also exposed areas of significant weaknesses, notwithstanding reforms implemented by a number of member countries. Executive Directors concurred that the urgent challenge is fiscal consolidation. They noted IMF staff’s assessment that the real effective exchange rate (REER) appears broadly in line with current fundamentals.
Over the last decade, the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) macroeconomic performance has deteriorated relative to the rest of the Caribbean. Tourism accounts for three-fifths of exports, and the import content of consumption and investment is high. The ECCB-operated quasi-currency board arrangement (CBA) has continued to deliver price and exchange rate stability. The region has strong social indicators, but poverty, health, and crime remain concerns. Despite the implementation of ambitious revenue reforms, limited progress has been made toward fiscal consolidation. Credit has continued to expand rapidly.
In recent years, the IMF has released a growing number of reports and other documents covering economic and financial developments and trends in member countries. Each report, prepared by a staff team after discussions with government officials, is published at the option of the member country.
This paper discusses key findings of the 2006 Regional Discussions on the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union. Fiscal revenues have improved, but there has been only a modest improvement in the fiscal and debt positions. Tax revenues have strengthened with the uptick in economic activity, administrative efforts, and tax reforms. The financial system has been resilient, but additional efforts are needed to strengthen the supervisory framework in the face of emerging risks. Progress continues to be made in implementing the Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP) recommendations, but there is a need to ensure enforcement of the new regulatory framework.
This 2005 Article IV Consultation highlights that economic activity in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) has accelerated since mid-2003 owing to an acceleration of activity in the tourism and construction sectors. Inflation has been stable and monetary aggregates have been expanding rapidly, reflecting continued growth in the demand for money and confidence in the banking system and the quasi-currency board arrangement. Against this background, Executive Directors have called for strengthening fiscal consolidation, lowering the debt ratios, and ensuring the consistency of fiscal policies with the currency board arrangement.
The staff report for the 2004 Regional Surveillance on the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) focuses on the economic developments and near-term prospects. The fiscal position of the governments in the region has deteriorated sharply in recent years and resulted in a marked increase in public sector debt. Efforts in the region have focused on strengthening the supervisory and regulatory regimes in both the domestic banking sector and the offshore financial sector. Enhanced regional cooperation could also help broaden markets and provide opportunities to achieve economies of scale.
As a reflection of the vulnerability to external shocks and the importance of large projects, gross domestic product growth has showed significant variations in the second half of the 1990s. The large public sector investments that have started in 1997 included the Leeward Highway, a new ferry and cruise ship berth, a banana irrigation project, and investments in health and education. During the second half of the 1990s, agriculture output declined—with output in 1999 about 20 percent lower than in 1995.