BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, February 21, 2020 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – After an exhaustive process of cleaning up the damage done to the country’s reputation and skillfully resuscitating the failing economy which it inherited from the former administration, the Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris-led Team Unity administration has positioned St. Kitts and Nevis as number one in the region in a number of important economic indicators.
Prime Minister Harris reminded citizens and residents of this when he addressed a packed Cayon Community Center where the first in a series of town hall meetings was held on Thursday, February 20.
“Five years is not too long for you to remember what was and to look at the amazing transformation of your Team Unity Government in five years. You deduct the time that we would have had to have taken to clean up the mess, the debt, the scandal and the reputational damage done to our country by the Douglas regime, and yet five years after we are number one,” Dr. Harris said to rounds of thunderous applause from those in attendance.
In the last term of the former administration, the growth rate was negative in 2010, 2011 and in 2012, and positive in 2013 and 2014 – for an average growth rate over the 5-year period of just about 1 percent per year.
“We have the lowest debt among all independent countries in the OECS. We are coming from a situation where we had the highest debt ever in the world, from a pariah nation to a position where we are now the best performing country,” Prime Minister Harris added, while also noting that St. Kitts and Nevis attained the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union’s (ECCU’s) target benchmark of 60 percent debt-to-GDP ratio in March 2016 – 14 years ahead of the eight-member ECCU target date of 2030.
Under the former administration, the country’s public debt ballooned to an estimated US$1.05 billion or about 200 percent of GDP. (Source of figures: IMF Country Report No. 11/270)
Additionally, the US Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued an advisory in May 2014 on St. Kitts and Nevis in which it stated that foreign individuals were abusing the St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programme to obtain passports for the purpose of engaging in illicit financial activity. The issuance of that advisory was followed in November 2014 by the Canadian government’s revocation of its visa-free waiver for persons carrying St. Kitts and Nevis passports.
Prime Minister Harris said St. Kitts and Nevis is now “the best managed small island state,” and further noted that “we must never go back” to that which was rejected in 2015.