BASSETERRE, St Kitts, July 16, CMC – Prime Minister Dr Denzil Douglas has welcomed the decision by Britain to cancel the debt owed by the twin-island federation , saying it underscores continued confidence in restoring the local economy.
“I commend the members of the Paris Club who cooperated and collaborated with us, especially the British government who has officially informed me that they have given complete debt forgiveness for the balance debt that we owed them,” said Dr. Douglas, who is also Minister of Finance
A government statement said that less than two months after going to the Paris Club seeking support for the restructuring of the debts owed by St. Kitts and Nevis, Britain’s Minister of State for International Development, Alan Duncan, announced the debt forgiveness.
The statement gave no details regarding the amount of the debt, but quoted Duncan as the cancellation is with “immediate effect”.
Duncan said that the case for debt relief was assessed under three criteria: “sound economic management, good governance and commitment to poverty eradication.
“I note in particular the extremely difficult external environment faced by St. Kitts and Nevis and the impressive efforts made to get public finances back on a secure and sustainable footing,” he said, adding that he hoped the debt cancellation would “help boost the chances of success and help free up resources to help protect the poorest and most vulnerable citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis during this challenging time”.
St. Kitts and Nevis approached the Paris Club, an informal group of financial officials from 19 of some of the world’s biggest economies, which provides financial services such as debt restructuring, debt relief, and debt cancellation to indebted countries and their creditors. Debtors are often recommended by the International MOnetary Fund (IMF) after alternative solutions have failed.
The approach to the Paris Club in late May was part of the comprehensive debt restructuring program launched by the government in May 2011.
Dr. Douglas, who returned home following an investment mission to Dubai, also thanked the United States for agreeing with the members of the Paris Club in May to extend the period of payment at a very low interest “thus making it possible to manage the outstanding debt with the United States Government.”
Prime Minister Douglas also expressed thanks to the domestic and regional creditors for the support provided in the restructuring of the national debt.
“With all that has been achieved, we are seeing the continuing increase in confidence returning to the economy of St. Kitts and Nevis, where we should now be doing everything that we can, not only to stimulate domestic investment to St. Kitts and Nevis, but also attracting foreign direct investment and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates is one of those places that such investment would come,” said Prime Minister Douglas.