St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), Mr. Timothy N.J. Antoine said the Federation is on a path of economic recovery but highlighted the need for structural reform in the Federation to boost the economy.
During “Conversation with the Governor” on Thursday night, March 02, 2023, Governor Antoine said there is need for a revamp of the Education sector in St. Kitts and Nevis. He suggested a shift from subjects to skills so as to ensure more job creation and opportunities.
“When we say structural reforms, we think of things like the revamping of our education system. That’s a big one. Human Capital is perhaps the single biggest investment we can make to change the trajectory of our economies. I’ve been asking the question to our leaders and to our region, our people, “What will it take to double the size of our GDP?” In the case of St. Kitts and Nevis, that GDP is about 3 billion dollars.”
“Well, one thing for sure is skills. So we have to make a shift in our Education System from Subject to skills. Skills that actually could get people employed. [Skills] that could allow people to create their own jobs; because I have to be honest, some of what we’re doing right now, well-intentioned as we may be, are not fit for purpose.”
The Business Environment, too, needs restructuring, Antoine said. He expressed that the length of time taken to process documents also has significant implications on the business sector and, by and large, the economy.
“The business environment- “How long does it take to get things done?” It cannot take months and months to be able to consolidate a few lots to start construction. It’s a simple example, but that’s a frustration that many people face every day.
“If you think about that bottleneck and what that does for the economy, you have a loan approved in a financial institution, bank or Credit Union, that project cannot get started because you’re waiting on that permit or you’re waiting on that piece of [paper] in the registry. The construction or the contractor cannot work. That means the person who has to work cannot work. There is a whole range of implications that flow from that one bottleneck.”
In addition, Antoine acknowledged the work of the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis as it relates to renewable energy. He said it is important that the project is executed, which will help lower the energy supply cost for businesses and domestic users.
“Clearly, to build resilience, we have to be less dependent on the rest of the world for our energy. Our energy security requires us to invest in our renewable energy sources. So we welcome what is being proposed here in St. Kitts and Nevis. Now, irrespective of Geothermal and Solar Pv (Photovoltaics), we believe that those are very important to lower the cost of energy, which has direct implications for business, households and public finances, but also to be able to create economic activity.”
The ECCB Governor shared that St. Kitts and Nevis should expect economic growth of about 4 ½ percent or higher in 2023. He said the four economic drivers are Tourism, Digitalisation, Agriculture – Food Production and Public Infrastructure. Antoine added that in 2024 and most likely in 2025, the Federation’s economy will increase by about 5 percent.