This Selected Issues paper analyzes the competitive threats to the tourism sector in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU). The paper concludes that the ECCU countries have lost competitiveness globally and vis-à-vis newly emergent Caribbean tourist destinations as a result of both price and nonprice factors. The short-term measures implemented by the countries seem to have been insufficient to prevent further declines in 2002. The paper also describes strengthening fiscal discipline through fiscal benchmarks.
Mr. Alfred Schipke, Aliona Cebotari, and Ms. Nita Thacker
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.
This 2002 Article IV Consultation highlights that after growing by an average 3 percent a year in 1998–99, output for St. Lucia stagnated in 2000, and fell by an estimated 5¼ percent in 2001. This reflected a severe drought in 2001, as well as lower tourism activity owing to the global economic slowdown and terrorist attacks of September 2001. In 2002, no growth is expected as tourism was weak, and tropical storm damage prevented a stronger recovery in banana production.
This 2003 Article IV Consultation highlights that after a contraction in GDP of more than 4 percent in 2001 and only a marginal expansion in 2002, the pace of economic growth in St. Lucia accelerated in 2003 to 3.7 percent, driven by a rebound in tourism of close to 17 percent. Despite the pickup in growth, the overall economic situation remained difficult in 2003, as an ongoing recovery in the tourism sector has not spilled over to the whole economy. Unemployment remained high, and bank credit to the private sector is declining.
This 2000 Article IV Consultation highlights that after a period of slow growth in the mid-1990s, mainly owing to a decline in banana output, economic growth of St. Lucia has improved since 1998. In 1998–99, real GDP rose by an average of 3 percent a year. Executive Directors have stressed that further diversification and enhancements to international competitiveness are needed to permanently raise long-term growth and to reduce the external vulnerability of the economy, particularly in light of the market uncertainties facing the crucial banana industry.
This paper discusses key findings of the Sixth Review under the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility for Benin. Benin’s macroeconomic outlook is weaker for 2009–10, reflecting the impact of the crisis. The implementation of structural reforms needs to be accelerated to enhance the competitiveness of Benin’s economy and increase its resilience to exogenous shocks. The adoption of a comprehensive strategy for the cotton sector and the implementation of the public finance management action plan are welcome steps.
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.
St. Lucia showed strong growth performance owing to its strong investment in tourism infrastructure. Executive Directors commended the prudent public debt management and sound banking system. They underscored the need for fiscal consolidation and steps to promote domestic investment and labor market flexibility. They appreciated the well-designed disaster prevention and mitigation framework, and urged the need to reduce unemployment, reverse the rapid rise in public debt, and encouraged authorities to improve the timeliness and accuracy of data for economic analysis and policymaking.
St. Lucia faces structural challenges that need to be addressed to raise growth durably and reduce poverty. Implementation of planned tax reforms is important to achieve fiscal sustainability. The government’s plans to accelerate tourism-related public investment carry significant risks. Competitiveness is a challenge, and structural reforms need to be accelerated to raise the economy’s growth potential. Strengthening the supervision of the financial sector is another priority. St. Lucia is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. Economic and social statistics need to be improved.