WASHINGTON, USA — On February 15, 2019, the executive board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) concluded the article IV consultation with St Vincent and the Grenadines. The 2018 article IV consultation focused on policies to achieve stronger and sustainable growth, build fiscal buffers, bolster resilience to natural disasters, and ensure financial stability.
Executive directors commended the authorities for successfully reinvigorating the St Vincent and the Grenadines’ economy. Nonetheless, they noted the continuing challenges in terms of making economic growth more sustainable, reducing public debt, and increasing resilience to natural disasters.
Directors stressed the importance of advancing structural reforms to raise longer term growth. They urged the authorities to capitalize on the growth opportunities created by the new airport. They recommended vigorously implementing policies to foster private sector activity, by improving the investment climate and strengthening human and physical capital, including investing in climate resilient infrastructure.
Directors emphasized the importance of bolstering fiscal buffers. They welcomed the authorities’ commitment to meeting the 60 percent of GDP debt target by 2030 and underscored the need for fiscal consolidation that does not jeopardize economic growth. They recommended prioritizing capital projects taking into account capacity and budget constraints and seeking concessional financing. Directors also encouraged taking additional fiscal measures, including broadening the tax base and reforming the pension system.
Directors welcomed the establishment of the Contingency Fund as an important instrument to protect public finances from the impact of natural disasters and climate change. They underscored the need to legislate the Contingency Fund’s governance and operational framework to ensure its effectiveness and transparency. Directors also suggested expanding the coverage of disaster insurance, especially against floods.
More generally, they recommended continuing to strengthen disaster preparedness, including reviewing the National Emergency and Disaster Act, updating river basin flood risk maps, and enhancing public education and awareness.
Directors encouraged the authorities to strengthen the institutional fiscal framework. Priorities include adopting a medium-term fiscal framework, strengthening revenue administration by moving toward a risk-based approach and completing the various reform initiatives, issuing regulations to strengthen the oversight of state-owned enterprises, and establishing a legal and institutional framework to assess potential risks from public private partnerships.
Directors highlighted the need to further strengthen financial sector oversight. They urged the authorities to enact pending legislation to strengthen the Financial Services Authority’s enforcement power. Directors urged the authorities to move ahead with preparing a crisis management plan for the non-bank financial sector and setting up a Financial Crisis Management Committee, building on earlier technical assistance provided by CARTAC.
Directors commended progress in addressing remaining legal deficiencies in the AML/CFT framework. Going forward, they recommended focusing on ensuring the effectiveness of AML/CFT preventative measures and completing the National Risk Assessment.