Basseterre, St Kitts – Is corruption driving investors and developers from the shores of St Kitts and Nevis?
That question was raised Tuesday by St Kitts and Nevis’ Leader of the Opposition the Rt Hon Dr Denzil L. Douglas during his weekly radio call-in programme “Ask the Leader” on Kyss 102.5 FM.
“We do not know if it is the continuing shake down by this government of investors and developers why we are not seeing the kind of attraction of new investment for St Kitts and Nevis as we have seen in the past under the Labour Party administration. These are serious concerns,” expressed Dr Douglas, the former prime minister and six-term parliamentarian.
“The government for the past four years in office has not attracted a single foreign direct investment to provide employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for our people outside investor. There has to be something wrong with the way that the government perceives economic development in St Kitts and Nevis.” Dr Douglas told listeners.
Referring to a shrinking economy coupled and the closure and down-sizing of several manufacturing plants resulting in rising unemployment and decelerating growth rate as well as the decreasing spending power of consumers, Dr Douglas said the outlook does not augur well for the economic future of St Kitts and Nevis.
Dr Douglas, a former minister of finance again called on prime minister Dr Timothy Harris to authorise the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) to lift the embargo that he has placed on the Article IV Consultation following an assessment of the St Kitts and Nevis economy in July 2018.
“We believe that the IMF would record a massive downturn in the St Kitts and Nevis economy and that the country is being taken in the wrong direction by an inefficient coalition government led by Dr Harris,” Douglas told listeners.
Since the Timothy Harris Unity Government (THUG) took office in 2015, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has plummeted from seven percent in 2013 and 2014 to 2.7 percent in 2018. Some of the largest companies have reported annual loses as high as 69 percent and many small businesses have closed.
The slowdown in the economy continues to be impacted by the recent closure of the 30-year-old United States-owned Lutron Liamuiga on March 1, this year, the downsizing of Domus manufacturing and the transfer of most of its operations to Trinidad resulting in half the staff being made redundant and the permanent closure of the production line at KOSCAB, putting scores of people out of work.
In June some 400 employees of the Four Seasons in Nevis will be unemployed for four months when the resort closes for refurbishing from June 1, 2019 and reopens in October, 2019.