International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This 2016 Article IV Consultation highlights that the fiscal situation in Curaçao and Sint Maarten remains relatively stable, following the debt relief in 2010, but progress on necessary fiscal and structural reforms has been slow. Curaçao experienced modest growth in 2015 of 0.1 percent, reflecting a turnaround from the contraction of 1.1 percent in 2014. The economy of Sint Maarten expanded by 0.5 percent in 2015, a slowdown compared with the 1.5 percent recorded in 2014. Real GDP growth in 2016 is expected to reach 0.5 percent in Curaçao and 0.7 percent in Sint Maarten. Over the medium term, growth is expected to pick up moderately to 0.9 percent and 1.3 percent for Curaçao and Sint Maarten, respectively.
The two newly autonomous countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands face substantial challenges. Growth has been low, and unemployment high. The current account deficit has widened to worrisome levels, increasing the vulnerability of the peg to the U.S. dollar and stimulating calls for dollarizing or dissolving the currency union. A substantial adjustment is needed to bring the underlying current account deficit to historically sustainable levels over the medium term. This could be facilitated by measures to restrain credit growth, supported by fiscal consolidation.
This Selected Issues paper and Statistical Appendix explores four policy issues—fiscal policy, public sector pension reforms, monetary management, and labor market performance—which are crucial for understanding the recent performance of the economy of the Netherlands Antilles and which will need to be addressed to restore the prospect of durable economic growth. The paper reviews experience with fiscal adjustment in the Netherlands Antilles, focusing in particular on the 1996–97 adjustment program. The paper also analyzes the sustainability of the public pension system of the country.