The objective of this paper is to analyze the growth performance of the ECCU countries since independence and the policy challenges they face to ensure sustained growth in the period ahead. Although tourism specialization may bring about higher growth, it could also increase volatility in growth by amplifying the impact of business cycles in source countries on the tourism sector. Low productivity growth is principally the reason for the slowdown in growth. High debt levels have been a major drag on growth.
In recent years, the IMF has released a growing number of reports and other documents covering economic and financial developments and trends in member countries. Each report, prepared by a staff team after discussions with government officials, is published at the option of the member country.
Real regional gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by 6 percent in 2009, reflecting a collapse in tourist arrivals and foreign direct investment (FDI)-financed construction activity. The global financial and economic crisis has also exposed areas of significant weaknesses, notwithstanding reforms implemented by a number of member countries. Executive Directors concurred that the urgent challenge is fiscal consolidation. They noted IMF staff’s assessment that the real effective exchange rate (REER) appears broadly in line with current fundamentals.
This paper proposes a fiscal policy framework we call Public Debt Targeting. The framework seeks to smooth primary spending over the business cycle while remaining consistent with public debt sustainability. Under the proposed framework, a government announces a commitment to a public debt band trajectory over the medium term, while sequentially announcing primary expenditures for the next budget cycle, which are determined recursively based on the history of shocks. Public debt targeting differs from a structural balance rule in that it internalizes the effect of the deterioration in creditworthiness from fiscal deficits and public debt accumulation, which tend to affect sovereign spreads, interest rates, exchange rates, and economic activity. The proposed framework is applied to Caribbean economies, which in general show high levels of public debt and procyclical primary expenditure.
This 2007 Article IV Consultation highlights that the economy of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is enjoying its second year of vigorous economic growth. Financial sector indicators have strengthened, but balance sheet vulnerabilities remain. Executive Directors have welcomed St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ recent strong macroeconomic performance, marked by robust economic growth, fiscal consolidation, and declining debt levels. Directors have also stressed that continued fiscal consolidation is needed to lower the public debt-to-GDP ratio, and create room to raise social spending.