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November 21, 2014
SVG records some modest growth in 2014 – IMF official

Although this country recently experienced a natural disaster, the economy of St Vincent and the Grenadines recorded modest growth for 2014.

This is according to Elie Canetti, an advisor in the Western Hemisphere Department at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), who has been assessing this country’s fiscal situation for the past two weeks.{{more}}

“Our first task is just to get a general assessment of the economy. We are still working to finalize the numbers, but it looks as if there has been some modest growth in 2014,” Canetti told media officials on Tuesday.

The IMF representative revealed that his team spent time looking into the adverse effects of the December 2013 flood, which impacted several sectors immensely, including agriculture and fisheries.

Canetti, however, indicated that there are a lot of positive signs for St Vincent and the Grenadines in the medium term.

“On balance, we think that the floods probably have impacted growth somewhat negatively this year, but beyond that, we think that there is underlying momentum in the economy,” Canetti said.

In his report, the advisor noted that the St Vincent and the Grenadines’ economy has suffered blows over the past three years, having to deal with a number of floods, two serious hurricanes and several droughts. Canetti added that the country’s debt seems to be growing and stressed that the government must take the necessary measures to tackle the issue.

“There has been a difficult challenge in keeping the budget together and the debt moderate, and indeed we have seen the debt growing. We’re seeing some signs of fiscal stress. There seems to be a bit of an increase in arrears, where the government is having, in some cases, difficulties meeting its obligations; but we’ve also looked a lot at the finance going forward and so we’ve stressed to the prime minister and other officials the need to put in place a medium-term plan, so the debt situation can be turned around,” Canetti said.

“I think it’s fair to say we’ve had good discussions about what some of the elements of that policy could be, really looking over the next five years. I will say it’s not a dire situation here. There are other countries in the Caribbean where we have much greater concerns, but here the debt at the moment looks manageable and so it’s important that actions be put in place to make sure that the debt level measures as a per cent of the economy eventually comes down over the medium term.” (BK)