BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, November 22, 2017 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris has expressed the view that the classification of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis as a high-income country is limiting the nation’s ability to access much needed financial assistance in times of disaster.
Against this backdrop, Prime Minister Harris has called for a re-evaluation of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita criterion for the graduation of countries.
Addressing delegates at the 2017 CARICOM-United Nations High-Level Pledging Conference on Tuesday, November 21st, 2017 at the UN Headquarters in New York, the Honourable Prime Minister said, “St. Kitts and Nevis, like Antigua and Barbuda, having been classified as a high income country is not eligible for concessional funding. Therefore, we have been relying on the use of our own resources to bring the country to a level of satisfactory recovery. However, there is much more to be done, and as a Small Island Developing State (SIDS) the demands on our limited resources are substantial and create fiscal pressures as we strive to continue the implementation of our development agenda.”
Held under the theme “Building a More Climate Resilient Community,” the pledging conference sought to mobilize support to assist CARICOM countries rebuild following the passage of two category 5 hurricanes in September.
Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris stated that the recent effects of the hurricanes underscore the need to revisit the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita criterion for the graduation of countries, “as it does not fully take into consideration their vulnerability.”
“I advocate support from the donor community in the use of a Vulnerability Index that will capture the unique features of our Small Island Developing States,” Prime Minister Harris added.
Hurricanes Irma and Maria caused devastation and millions of dollars worth of damage to housing, agriculture and public infrastructure in several CARICOM countries including Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Barbuda and Anguilla.
The Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis also drew delegates’ attention to the cumbersome procedures countries often face when trying to obtain funds that have been pledged. This, according to Dr. Harris, has led to long delays in accessing vital resources.
As such, Prime Minister Harris underscored the need for the establishment of a fast-track mechanism to ensure that funds are disbursed in a timely but transparent manner if they are to make a real impact on the dire circumstances in the region.