Basseterre, St. Kitts, October 28, 2018 – Nationals over the weekend rejected the Timothy Harris Government’s response to an IMF statement that the authorities in Basseterre are blocking release of the Article IV Consultation on the state of the economy of St. Kitts and Nevis.
The Washington-based international financial institution said the IMF Mission visited St. Kitts and Nevis late June/early July 2018 and the Executive Board on September 14, 2018 “concluded the consideration of the Article IV Consultation with St. Kitts and Nevis.”
“Upon the return its return, the staff submits a report to the IMF’s Executive Board for discussion. The Board’s views are subsequently summarised and transmitted to the countries authorities. The authorities have not consented to publication of the staff report and the related press release,” the IMF posted on its website.
Following a hastily-called Cabinet meeting on Friday, hours after the news made the rounds in St. Kitts and Nevis of Prime Minister Harris’ blocking of the IMF report, the Ministry of Finance officials were summoned to the Cabinet Room at Government Headquarters on Church Street.
In the Cabinet-crafted press release on Friday 26th October, read by the Financial Secretary, Mrs. Hillary Hazel, the St. Kitts and Nevis Government for the first time officially informed the public that the IMF Mission visited St. Kitts and Nevis June 29 – July 9, 2018.
She said that “consultation with the IMF continues up to today’s date and the government awaits the outcome and in the circumstances the IMF Country Report has not been published” and that “it was important to note that Government maintains an excellent relationship with the IMF.”
But critics were quick to point out that the IMF has officially stated that “on September 14, 2018, the Executive Board of the IMF concluded the consideration of the Article IV consultation with St. Kitts and Nevis.”
Reaction has been swift with comments from several quarters especially in chat rooms with responses submitted with requests to publish their comments but not to use their names for fear of victimisation of the authors and their families by Prime Minister Harris and his Government.
“Dr. Harris thinks he can manipulate every organisation and get them to do what he wants as he does to the Chamber, the Bar Association and the Churches in St. Kitts and Nevis.”
“I can imagine that the IMF has called Tim Harris out on the land for debt policy that he opposed and promised to reverse while in opposition. He thinks he can continue his usual hedging and dodging on the matter.”
“In addition to the land for debt swap, the Hurricane Relief Fund has to be addressed. The IMF will ask that Dr. Harris tells the Nation from the Parliament how much is in the Fund?”
“Why is Dr. Harris, his Cabinet and the Ministry trying to fool the people? The IMF statement is abundantly clear that the consultations are over and the finding in a Report was submitted to the Executive Board. What ongoing consultation she speaks about?”
“It is not beyond Harris to get his Ministry of Finance officials as he does with every government official who fails to stand up to his bullying and maybe the ECCB as he does not accept ‘no’ for an answer as they might be mortally afraid of him, but not the IMF.”
“The relationship between St. Kitts and Nevis and the IMF is not in question. It is the failure of Dr. Harris as the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance to deny permission to the IMF to release the Report. Is it some negative information Harris wants removed from the Report? The people of St. Kitts and Nevis have a right to know the true state of the economy.”
The Executive Board is responsible for conducting the day-to-day business of the IMF.
It is composed of 24 Directors, who are elected by member countries or by groups of countries, and the Managing Director, who serves as its Chairman.