Basseterre, St. Kitts, October 26, 2016 (SKNIS): Although the Prosperity Agenda of the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis continues to be a work in progress, significant milestones have been achieved thus far, especially with respect to the economy, said Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, during his monthly press conference on Wednesday, October 26, 2016.

“Take for example, our country was one of the best performing states in the OECS, in CARICOM among Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) borrowing member states, ECLAC, and the Americas for 2015. For 2016, we continue to put in above-average performance,” said Prime Minister Harris. “The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) projects a moderation of economic growth in 2016, and a modest 2.6 percent for the ECCB currency union as a whole. We in St. Kitts and Nevis are expecting to record a growth rate of just about 3 percent. Our projected growth rate can be compared more favourably to that of the UK going at 1.8 percent, USA – 1.6 percent, Canada – 1.2 percent, and the Euro zone – 1.7 percent.”

Prime Minister Harris reflected on a recent country report released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which shows St. Kitts and Nevis leading the region in 2017 with a projected growth rate of 3.5 percent.

“The international report about our economy’s performance paints a picture of St. Kitts and Nevis with a robust economy, an above average performer globally,” said Dr. Harris. “While we are inspired by these international recognition, we will not sit on our laurels. Equally important as to the state of play in the economy is to recognize that our inflation rate has been put by the ECCB at negative 0.9 percent for the first six months of 2016. Lower prices were reflected in food and non-alcoholic beverages which were down by 5.7 percent and transport down by 2.6 percent. This reduction in the inflationary costs has been attributed by the IMF to my Government’s VAT removal policy and more economical prices for energy.”

Dr. Harris said that the Federation’s fiscal accounts up to September 2016, recorded a recurrent surplus of $120.3 million, an overall surplus of $124.2 million and a primary surplus of $141.6 million.

“Coming out of the Monetary Council Meeting held last Friday, October 21, 2016, we know that St Kitts and Nevis is projected by our Central Bank to have the highest primary balance in the sub-region for the period 2016 to 2018. This is a major achievement for the new administration,” he said. “Recurrent Revenue for the first nine months of 2016 totaled $480.7 million – 9 percent above our budget. The Tax Revenue of $296.6 million was up over budget and the 2015 comparator.”

The finance minister said that in relation to the Budget, positive figures were recorded in all tax categories except on international trade such as imports and exports, as well as on transactions. He further added that government has a tax concession programme that hotels are able to access and this is a reason for the reduction.