KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Feb. 15, IWN – St. Vincent and the Grenadines is not on the Caribbean Development Bank’s (CDB) list of borrowing members with unsustainable levels of debt, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves noted on Tuesday.
The CBD, in a report last week, said Barbados, Jamaica, St. Kitts Nevis, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize and St. Lucia have unsustainable levels of debt.
It further projected “a modest/moderate” 1-2 per cent growth in most of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States countries in 2013.
It said anchoring investor confidence at home and abroad will require governments to take “corrective policy action”.
“The fiscal policy agenda must include measures that tackle improvements in tax yields by reassessing the range of exemptions and concessions being offered and, by improving compliance and collection of arrears,” the CDB said.
“The growth through the borrowing member countries of the CDB in 2011 was 1.2 per cent. It’s less in 2012. But, in the case of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, our growth was more than in 2011 — 1.53, as against 0.4 per cent in 2011,” Gonsalves said at a press conference.
“Interestingly, he said in seven borrowing member countries, the debt levels have become unsustainable and remedial initiatives would require renewal of investor confidence both at home and abroad and linked to corrective policy action by governments,” the Prime Minister said of CDB president, Dr. William Warren Smith
“You will notice the name of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is not present,” Gonsalves said.
“This is the president of the CDB. I made similar kinds of points in my budget speech because we heard yesterday [opposition legislator St. Clair] Leacock saying the financial sector in the country has collapsed…” Gonsalves further said.
Gonsalves told Parliament in January that as at Sept. 30, 2012 the public debt of St. Vincent and the Grenadines amounted to $1.31 billion, 6.9 per cent more than the figure as at September 2011.
The public debt comprised domestic debt of $565.1 million and external debt of $747.3 million, he said in the Budget Address.