Basseterre, St. Kitts, November 13, 2018 – The Timothy Harris-led Team Unity Government has not kept its promise to reverse The Vesting of Certain Lands Act.
The passage of the legislation in the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly was opposed by Dr. Harris, then a senior minister in the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party Administration.
In May last year, the Washington, DC-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) told Harris, the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, that the sale of lands under the debt-land swap arrangement must be completed urgently to limit fiscal and financial risks.
After nearly four years in office Prime Minister Harris is yet to keep deal with the issue.
The IMF told Harris that a clear action plan and timetable with concrete milestones are needed.
“Completing existing purchase proposals and stepped up marketing to generate sales, including through real-estate agents and the SLSC website, will help establish momentum and remove the policy uncertainty,” said the IMF after the conclusion of a three-week visit to St. Kitts and Nevis under its Article IV Consultation in 2017.
In the 2017 Staff Report, the IMF said banks in St. Kitts and Nevis were still burdened by high levels of nonperforming loans (NPLs).
“Their swift resolution is critical to limit further deterioration, revive credit expansion, and support economic growth,” said the IMF in 2017.
It said the establishment of the ECAMC will allow for a more efficient collection and disposal of distressed assets.
“Ongoing efforts to modernize the foreclosure and insolvency frameworks would help maximize recovery. The new collateral appraisal guidelines, credit bureau, and land registry should help contain future losses from NPLs,” the IMF said warning the government that it should “monitor other potential risks, including the implications of a slowdown in CBI inflows for the banking system.”
“While the direct impact may be limited, and even though the local and CBI-related real-estate markets are segmented, and most CBI-properties are self-financed, slower inflows may affect banks through reduced construction activity and its spill over effects on borrowers’ repayment capacity” the IMF Article IV Consultation said in May 2017.
Dr. Harris has blocked the Staff Report following the 2018 Article Assessment following the late June/early July 2018 visit