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Posted: Tuesday 19 October, 2021 at 2:23 PM

PM Harris speaks at annual IMF Forum on Rebuilding Fiscal Buffers and Overcoming Unsustainable Debt

Shows Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris, supported by Financial Secretary Mrs. Hilary Hazel, during Monday’s virtual meeting with the IMF
By: (OPM), Press Release

    BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, October 19, 2021 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – On Monday, October 18, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, joined fellow CARICOM Heads and Ministers of Finance virtually for a Caribbean Ministerial Meeting with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), with a special focus on emerging from the pandemic as a more resilient Caribbean region.
     
    Monday afternoon’s meeting, which was also attended by Central Bank Governors, looked at the theme “Overcoming the Crisis, a Stronger, More Resilient Caribbean.”
     
    The IMF was represented in the meeting by its Managing Director, Ms. Kristalina Georgieva, who delivered welcome remarks, as well as Deputy Managing Directors Antoinette Sayeh and Mr. Bo Li.
     
    During the roundtable discussion, Prime Minister Harris delivered a presentation on ‘Rebuilding Fiscal Buffers and Overcoming Unsustainable Debt’.
     
    The prime minister noted that individual country responses to the global COVID-19 pandemic have led to depleted fiscal buffers and/or the contracting of higher levels of debt which, for a growing number of countries, is becoming unsustainable.
     
    Dr. Harris said, “Clearly the capacity to build up buffers would be critical as a first response measure to some of the challenges that we face. In our own context and speaking particularly for St. Kitts and Nevis, we have been able to respond initially to the pandemic by implementing two stimulus packages to assist our people and to aid the recovery largely because at the time of the pandemic we had very good and substantial buffers.”
     
    The St. Kitts and Nevis prime minister proposed a number of viable solutions that can help small states build fiscal buffers and economic resilience in both the short and long term.
     
    “It calls for the issue of the prudent management of public resources, containing expenditure etc. Within our sub-region, we have been talking about different legislative measures which will have to be made to help to anchor expenditures within a certain magnitude, having regard to growth. But clearly, given our small size and the structural constraints on our own development, it is not easy to garner those buffers in a speedy way,” Prime Minister Harris explained.
     
    Importantly, Prime Minister Harris indicated to those in attendance that it would be near impossible for small island states to rebuild fiscal buffers and successfully achieve sustainable debt without the full support of international partners.
     
    He added, “We’re going to need the ongoing support of the IMF, the World Bank and other [international financial institutions] if we are to be able to get the kind of response needed from bilateral agencies from the international community to assist us in overcoming some of the challenges.”
     
    Presentations were also made by the CARICOM Chairman and Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, the Honourable Gaston Browne; Prime Minister of Barbados, the Honourable Mia Motley; Mr. Timothy Antoine, Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank; Mr. Alvin Hilaire, Governor of the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago, as well as the Ministers of Finance from Grenada and Guyana.

      

     


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