The Caribbean Development Bank has predicted that the Antigua and Barbuda economy would have grown by some 3 percent in 2017.
The announcement was made by Director of Economics at the CDB, Dr. Justin Ram during the Bank’s annual news conference on Wednesday. He said that all of CDB’s Borrowing Member Countries (BMCs) including Antigua and Barbuda are expected to contribute to positive movement of the grouping.
This projection was made despite of the devastating effects hurricane Irma and Maria had on some islands, specifically Antigua and Barbuda.
Dr. Ram pointed out, during his assessment for the 2018 economic year that “Antigua and Barbuda and the Turks and Caicos Islands are expected to have strong growth.” The bank predicted a 5.3 percent growth for the twin island nation for 2018 based on current economic trends.
The Bank’s Director however stated that in order for Caribbean countries to ensure sustainable, inclusive growth and development, measures to improve resilience are needed. He recommended a framework that could help countries build resilience. It is built on four pillars: macroeconomic resilience; productivity and competitiveness; human development; and environmental resilience, pillars detailed by Prime Minister Gaston Browne in his recently passed 2018 budget.
According to PM Browne, “The Hurricane knocked us back; but it could not knock us out. We have risen-up – ready to continue the noble task of increasing the wealth of our nation and improving the circumstances of all who live within our shores.”
The PM indicated that it was imperative for his government to first tackle the overwhelming national debts his administration inherited when they entered office. However, the Prime Minister, with responsibility for Finance said “In this regard, I am pleased to report that my government has reduced the proportion of revenues needed to make interest payments from an average of 17 percent between 2009 and 2013, to 10.7 percent between 2014 and 2017. This means that we have created space to spend more on healthcare, scholarships, providing water, building homes and improving infrastructure.”
In the release from the CDB, “Dr. Ram noted that at the macroeconomic level, fiscal rules that encourage governments to save should be implemented; and debt-to-GDP limits should be introduced.”
During his budget presentation, the PM took the opportunity to illustrate how the government is actively moving towards debt sustainability. He said “having achieved a debt to GDP ratio of 75 percent in 2017, our nation is now only 15 percentage points away from the debt sustainability target of 60 percent set by the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union for the year 2030. We intend to achieve that target in a much shorter time.”
According to the CDB, they are projecting a regional economic growth of 2% in 2018. However the Prime Minister stated that he is confident that the economy of Antigua and Barbuda will exceed a 5.8% economic growth.
“My confidence is not born of any idle wish. It is nurtured by the myriad projects that have started or will be implemented in 2018,” Prime Minister Browne asserted.
Photo: Prime Minister Gaston Browne