Eastern Caribbean being left behind – Venner

BASSETERRE, St Kitts and Nevis, Thursday January 31, 2013 – The economy of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) declined 0.1 per cent in 2012, marking the fourth consecutive year of decline for the collective economies of the sub-region, albeit at a slower rate of decline than in the past.

This was revealed by Sir Dwight Venner, governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), as he offered his review of the 2012 performance of the ECCU, which consists of Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines. 

In a candid review themed ‘Realism and Hope’, Sir Dwight baldly stated to those viewing the live teleconference: “To put it bluntly, we are being left behind in a very competitive world in which countries, both advanced and developing, are having to make significant adjustments to remain competitive.”

The sub-region’s chief economist linked the continued slide in economic productivity to lower output in key drivers such as, construction, transport, storage and communications, and sluggish growth in the tourism industry.

“Value added by the construction sector contracted by 5.6 per cent, following an average decline of 13.3 per cent in the previous three years.”

Sir Dwight said weakened performance in the tourism sector was due mainly to reduced demand brought on by higher airfares for regional travel.

“The cruise ship sub-sector was also challenged by increased competition from other destinations, resulting in a reduction in passenger arrivals, consistent with the fall in the number of calls,” he added.

The central bank governor also noted that the small open economies of the ECCU made them particularly susceptible to external shocks, such as the ongoing global recession, increases in oil and food prices, interest rates and trade barriers.

Sir Dwight expressed his hope that the nations of the ECCU over the next 15 years would develop further toward peace and tranquillity with low rates of crime and political stability, and he also stressed the need for increased cooperation between the ECCU member states.

“We will have to make the sacrifices, exercise the discipline and change the culture to that of collective responsibility instead of individual self-aggrandisement,” he said. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)