Western Hemisphere > St. Vincent and the Grenadines

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International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
An explosive volcanic eruption that began on April 9 is hitting St. Vincent and the Grenadines hard, creating an urgent balance of payments need and a humanitarian crisis as the country continues to deal with the fallout from the global pandemic. The economy is estimated to have contracted in 2020 by 3.8 percent as tourism activity fell 70 percent. Before the eruption, economic growth was expected to be flat in 2021, as the global pandemic continued, and tourism remained depressed. While there is considerable uncertainty about the evolution of the eruption, staff estimate the infrastructure damage to exceed 20 percent of GDP and for the economy to contract by 6.1 percent in 2021 with agriculture and related sectors severely affected.
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 paper highlights St. Vincent and The Grenadines’ Request for Disbursement Under the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF). The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic poses a major challenge to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The tourism sector, a key driver of economic growth in the country, has come to a complete halt with ripple effects across the economy. The authorities have responded to the pandemic by swiftly implementing containment measures and a fiscal package, which includes an increase in funding for the health sector, various public construction projects to generate jobs, financial support to agriculture and fishery sector, and programs to support displaced workers and the most vulnerable. The authorities are committed to meeting the regional debt target of 60 percent of gross domestic product by 2030. Once the crisis has abated, they plan to reprioritize capital spending, contain the growth of the wage bill, enhance taxpayer compliance, and rationalize exemptions from import duties and value added tax on imports. IMF emergency support under the RCF will help fill St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ balance of payments needs. The IMF financing will also help catalyze additional donor support. The authorities are committed to ensuring transparency and good governance in the use of COVID-19-related spending.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This paper presents IMF’s 2019 Discussion on Common Policies of Member Countries of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU). ECCU’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth accelerated from 3/4 percent in 2017 to 3 3/4 percent in 2018, reflecting buoyancy in the tourism sector, sizable Citizenship-by-Investment (CBI) inflows, and a recovery from the 2017 hurricanes in Anguilla and Dominica, which were supported by large public investments in reconstruction. Fiscal deficits increased in 2018–2019, but they have remained moderate. Efforts are needed to streamline, and re-balance tax incentives based on clear principles consistent with international best practices. External imbalances are sizable and significant financial sector vulnerabilities affect both banks and non-banks. Growth is projected to gradually moderate toward its long-term average of 2 1/4 percent as the cyclical momentum normalizes and CBI inflows ease. These trends would also contribute to wider fiscal deficits, ending the downward drift in public debt dynamics. The outlook is clouded by downside risks, including a possible intensification of natural disasters and financial sector weaknesses.
Mr. Serhan Cevik and Vibha Nanda
Fiscal sustainability remains a paramount challenge for small economies with high debt and greater vulnerability to climate change. This paper applies the model-based sustainability test for fiscal policy in a panel of 16 Caribbean countries during the period 1980–2018. The results indicate that the coefficient on lagged government debt is positive and statistically significant, implying that fiscal policy in the Caribbean takes corrective actions to counteract an increase in the debt-to-GDP ratio. Nonlinear estimations, however, show that the quadratic debt parameter is negative, which indicates that fiscal policy response is not adequate to ensure sustainability at higher levels of debt. We also find that the fiscal stance tends to be countercyclical on average during the sample period. These empirical results confirm that maintaining prudent fiscal policies and implementing growth-enhancing structural reforms are necessary to build fiscal buffers and ensure debt sustainability with high probability even when negative shocks occur over the long term.
Mr. A. E. Wayne Mitchell, Ronald James, and Ann Marie Wickham
In this study, we assess the size of the government wage bill and employment in the member countries of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union and their implications for fiscal sustainability and the adequacy of public service delivery. Over the period 2005 to 2015 their wage bill (as a percentage of GDP, government revenues and expenditures) is higher than in other small states notwithstanding recent efforts by governments to make it more manageable. The composition and distribution of employment is sub-optimal and is reflected in skills mismatches contributing to inefficiencies in public service delivery. Using a dynamic fixed-effects panel, we find that wage bill growth reflects the expansion of government activities to speed up economic and social development and that wage bill spending is procyclical in good times but is rigid during downturns. Finally, we identify the main institutional and legal reforms needed to improve wage bill management and public service efficiency.