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International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
The fallout from the COVID-19 crisis is hitting ECCU economies hard. Tourism receipts (accounting for nearly 40 percent of GDP) have dried up, as tourist arrivals have come to a grinding halt. The authorities successfully contained the spread of the virus at the onset of the pandemic by largely closing the borders, but a reopening of the economies since the summer has led to a surge in COVID cases. The ECCU economy is projected to contract by 16 percent in 2020 and by a further near ½ percent in 2021. Fiscal positions have deteriorated sharply, and public debt is projected to reach near 90 percent of GDP in 2021 and remain at an elevated level for years to come. Headline indicators suggest the financial system is relatively sound with ample liquidity buffers, but nonperforming loans are expected to rise significantly. The outlook is clouded by exceptionally high risks, including from the uncertainty concerning the evolution of the pandemic.
International Monetary Fund. Statistics Dept.
A technical assistance mission was undertaken by the Real Sector Statistics Advisor in the Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Centre to Saint Lucia to provide advice to the Central Statistics Office (CSO) on compiling rebased gross domestic product estimates. The CSO is responding to the needs of the Ministry of Finance for more robust and timely national accounts statistics. All the Gross domestic product by economic activity (GDP-P) compilation workbooks have now been redeveloped and revised current and constant 2018 price quarterly and annual estimates have been compiled up to Q3 2019. The incorporation of revised data on tourist expenditure for 2000 onward have also resulted in revisions to the GDP-P current rice estimates and real growth rates. The revised annual and quarterly GDP-P estimates were assessed, and several methodological improvements were implemented. Improvements were made to the constant price estimates by reviewing and replacing weaker volume indicators. Training on the methodological changes and compiling the rebased estimates has been provided. The training on methodological improvements included the use of the more representative employment indicators and various price indices discussed above; back-casting and linking techniques for the current price estimates and linking the constant 2006 price series with the constant 2018 price series.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This 2019 Article IV Consultation explains that St. Lucia’s near-term growth prospects are favorable, supported by large infrastructure investment and robust tourist inflows. However, longer-term growth continues to be impeded by high public debt, lingering vulnerabilities in the financial system, and structural impediments to private investment. Diminishing policy buffers further weaken the country’s resilience to external shocks against the backdrop of aprecarious global outlook. Completion of long pending legislative initiatives, alongside stronger regional and domestic financial oversight, should provide banks with incentives to strengthen their balance sheets and increase the efficiency of financial intermediation. There is also a need to draw on supervisory and regulatory tools to respond to emerging risks from rising overseas investments of the banks and the rapid expansion of lending by credit unions. The authorities are recommended to should step up efforts to address the institutional, financing and capacity gaps in its climate and disaster response strategy. Supply-side reforms are needed to unlock potential growth by improving the business environment, reducing energy costs, enhancing labor productivity, and further diversifying the economy.
International Monetary Fund. Statistics Dept.
A technical assistance (TA) mission was undertaken by the Real Sector Statistics Advisor in the Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Centre (CARTAC) to St. Lucia during September 17–28, 2018, to provide advice to the Central Statistics Office (CSO) on compiling supply and use tables (SUT) for 2016. The 2006 base year for the GDP estimates is outdated and does not reflect the current structure of the economy. In addition, there is scope to improve the input data and methodology used in producing the GDP estimates and to implement the relevant System of National Accounts 2008 (2008 SNA) recommendations.
Mr. Balazs Csonto, Mr. Alejandro D Guerson, Ms. Alla Myrvoda, and Emefa Sewordor
This paper applies network analysis to assess the extent of systemic vulnerabilities in the ECCU banking system. It includes two sets of illustrative stress tests. First, solvency and liquidity shocks to each individual bank and the impact on other banks in the network through their biltareal net asset exposures. Second, country and region-wide tail shocks to GDP affecting capital and liquidity of all banks in the shocked jurisdictions, followed by the rippling effects through the regional network. The results identify systemic institutions that merit hightened attention by the regulator, as determined by the degree of connectivity with the rest of the system, and the extent to which they are vulnerable to the failure of other banks.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This 2018 Article IV Consultation highlights that the GDP growth in St. Lucia reached 3 percent in 2017, sustained by robust activity in several sectors. Favorable external conditions, coupled with hotel expansions and the addition of new flights, generated a strong recovery in tourism, with stay-over arrivals rising by 11 percent, the fastest growth in the Caribbean. Backed by strong tourism inflows, the current account balance strengthened. Unemployment declined from 21.3 percent in 2016 to 20.2 percent in 2017, but youth unemployment remains high at 38.5 percent and labor force participation has fallen. The short-term outlook is favorable, but prospects beyond that are sobering. GDP growth is expected to remain buoyant in the near term.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This paper elaborates 2014 Article IV Consultation, Seventh and Eight Reviews Under the Stand-By Arrangement (SBA), and Request for Waivers of Applicability and Non-Observance of Performance Criterion for St. Kitts and Nevis. The discussions focus on strategies to secure sustainable growth through enhancing tourism, developing cost-effective energy sources, and improving the business environment. It states that the authorities’ commitment to their program is reflected in the 2014 budget, and their plans to save the bulk of the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) application fees.
Mr. Alfred Schipke, Aliona Cebotari, and Ms. Nita Thacker

Abstract

The Eastern Caribbean Economic and Currency Union (OECS/ECCU) is one of four currency unions in the world. As in other parts of the world in the aftermath of the global economic and financial crisis, the region is at a crossroads, facing the major challenges of creating jobs, making growth more inclusive, reforming the banking system, and managing volatility, while grappling with high public debt and persistent low economic growth. Policymakers have the critical task of implementing strong reforms to strengthen the monetary union while also laying the foundation for accelerating growth. This Handbook provides a comprehensive analysis of the key issues in the OECS/ECCU, including its organization and economic and financial sector linkages, and provides policy recommendations to foster economic growth.

International Monetary Fund
St. Lucia faces significant policy challenges in the aftermath of Hurricane Tomas. It is experiencing an urgent balance of payments need that would result in a severe economic disruption. The government is focused on achieving medium-term debt sustainability. The policies outlined tackle urgent rebuilding needs and appropriately aim to maintain macroeconomic stability. Executive Directors support the request for funds based on the extent of the damage caused, the associated urgent balance of payments need, and the government’s commitment to limit the increase in capital spending.