KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – This country is expected to register “small positive growth” this year after three consecutive years of economic decline.
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said Sunday that the economy is expected to improve notwithstanding the problems with the banana sector.
Hurricane Tomas last year destroyed 98 per cent of banana crops while black sigatoka disease this year resulted in the culling of 18 per cent of the fruit that generated EC$20 million in sales last year.
According to Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Finance, tourism, manufacturing and construction would generate the expected growth of the economy.
He said that tourism is expected to grow by 4 per cent this year and noted that so far stay over visitors had increase by 9 per cent.
“Still, we need to do more,” he, however, said at a rally of his Unity Labour Party in Biabou.
He further said that his government expects manufacturing to grow by 4 per cent and construction by 3 to 3.5 per cent.
“So, we are not out of the woods yet because I tell you about the strains from outside; the strain from Tomas and the flash foods [in April]; the strain from CLICO and British American,” Gonsalves said.
“But I want you to appreciate that we are being careful, prudent, we are staying the course,” he further stated.
He further told the rally that running a deficit budget for three to four years “is not an issue but rather to have fiscal consolidation and fiscal rebalancing”.
Legislators in January approved an EC$27 current account deficit budget for this year.