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One of the highest growth rates in recent times

One of the highest growth rates in recent times

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26.JAN.07

Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) Sir Dwight Venner has said that 2006 was a year in which the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union experienced one of its highest growth rates in recent times.

This disclosure was made at the bank’s annual economic review, in the form of a regional interactive teleconference and discussion last Thursday January 18th.{{more}}

Sir Dwight estimated the growth to be at least 7.1 percent, and credited this spurt to the favorable performance of the international economy and improved monetary and credit conditions.

Highs and Lows

The Vincentian born economist speaking from the bank’s headquarters in St. Kitts cited some economic highlights of the past year, including the fall of the US dollar against other major currencies, which made exports from the Caribbean, particularly tourism, more competitive.

The continued increase of the union’s foreign exchange reserves which reached EC $1.9 billion at the end of December 2006, and construction activities in both the public and private sector in the run up to the 2007 ICC Cricket world cup were also some good factors.

Some economic low points included the widening of the central government’s overall deficit due to a significant increase in capital expenditures. And a matter which is of real concern for the members of the currency union is the increase in the total outstanding debt.

2007 and Beyond

The Governor predicts that the Cricket World Cup which takes place in the region from March 5th to April 28th will be a major boost to the economy, not only the event itself, but preparation for the event as well as the post event process.

He insisted that other factors need to be addressed with some urgency on an ongoing basis: for instance the fiscal and debt imbalances, the stability of our economies and societies and the evolution from activities in agriculture and manufacturing, to service industries as well as stronger OECS integration.

According to Sir Dwight, the members of the union have made significant political, social and economic progress over the last two decades. He also mentioned that the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court turns 40 this year, and other institutions serving the OECS have been durable and effective over the years and for the region to attain a higher level of socio-economic development, it is important that the members of the union work together.

The members of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank are Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Last Thursday’s teleconference was also viewed in Barbados, Jamaica and Suriname.

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