Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace says that the Vincentian economy registered negative growth in 2014.
Speaking on his weekly radio programme on Monday, Eustace, an economist, challenged the Ralph Gonsalves government to say otherwise.
“I am making a statement here today and I am challenging the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to tell me that it is wrong: that for 2014, St. Vincent had negative growth again,” he said.
“St. Vincent has negative growth again. Couple years back, we had three consecutive years of negative growth – gone back to negative growth in 2014,” he said.
The Vincentian economy grew marginally in 2011, 2012, and 2014, after declines of 0.6 per cent, 2.3 per cent, and 1.8 per cent in 2008, 2009, and 2010.
Eustace did not give evidence to support his statement.
His statement came as he commented on steps that the Monetary Council of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union, which Gonsalves chairs, outlined recently as part of efforts to strengthen the banking sector within the sub-region.
Eustace said that some of steps that are being taken are not enough to turn around the economic fortunes of the respective countries in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean states.
“In our case, when you look, bananas still down at nothing, our tourism ain’t doing anything. So, where the growth going to come from?” he said.
He said a lot more has to be done to change the fortunes of the OECS economies.
“This is not simply a banking issue. That growth has to come from policies and programmes that the countries develop which stimulate their economies,” Eustace said.
In his Budget Address in January, Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Finance, said the International Monetary Fund had estimated economic growth for St. Vincent and the Grenadines at “the very modest level of 1.1 per cent”.
“This level of growth is essentially flat and problematic; they project a further modest 1.5 per cent real economic growth for 2015 and a more robust 3 per cent economic growth in 2016 consequent upon the opening of the Argyle International Airport,” he said.
The airport, which has missed several completion deadlines since 2011, is expected to become operational by October.