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Surge in unemployment as hundreds leave high schools and return from colleges and universities

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Published 17 August 2017

Buckie Got It, St. Kitts and Nevis News Source

Surge in unemployment as hundreds leave high schools and return from colleges and universities

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, AUGUST 17TH 2017 – With a fifty percent decline in the Federation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) since the Timothy Harris-led PLP/CCM/PAM administration took office, deputy political leader of the opposition St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNL), Dr. Earl Asim Martin said recent reports from regional and international financial institutions and businesses confirm the dramatic reduction in the quality of life of the people.

The St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party handed over a robust 6 percent and 7 percent GDP in 2013 and 2014 respectively, only to see the island’s fortune plummeted in 2015. GDP is estimated at 2.15 percent in 2016 with projections of 2.36 percent in 2017 and 3.89 percent in 2018.

Dr. Martin referenced the recent St. Kitts and Nevis Carib Brewery Annual report which attributed the decline in the economy due to lower investment inflows from the Citizenship By Investment programme which impacted construction activity; a slowing down in tourism growth which weighed on consumption and a company performance of 1 percent in 2016 over that of 2015 and a 37 percent drop in export sales.

“Every sector has been impacted. Restaurateurs, builders, contractors, plumbers, masons, skilled and unskilled labourers have all been affected,” Dr. Martin told listeners to Wednesday’s edition of Issues on Freedom 106.5 FM and KYSS 102.5 FM.

He said the several construction projects including the Koi Resort, the Ramada, T-Lofts and Ross University, left by the former Labour Party administration are at varying stages of construction. One such hotel attracted by the Labour administration has been completed and will open in November.

The Team Unity Government has failed to attract new foreign direct investment to provide employment since taking office.

“This Team Unity while in opposition went to the length and breadth of the world demonizing and discrediting the Citizenship by Investment Programme accusing the Labour Government of ‘selling passports like black pudding on a Saturday.’ Their previous false statements are now haunting them and affecting the growth not only of the economy but the livelihood of the citizens and residents,” said Dr. Martin.

“It has affected the construction and related industries. It has even affected the social programmes that the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation (SIDF) financed including the REACH programme that helped students attending AVEC, the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College (CFBC) and the Nevis Sixth Form, the Cappisterre Farm at Belmont which was closed down,” Dr. Martin said.

“The thousands of persons who are already impacted by the high cost of living, the expected surge in unemployment among those hundreds of students leaving the CFBC, AVEC as well as those leaving the Basseterre High School, the Washington Archibald High School, the Saddlers Secondary School, the Cayon High School, the Charles E. Mills Secondary School, the Charlestown Secondary School, the Gingerland Secondary School and the Immaculate Conception Catholic School,” Dr. Martin said, pointing also to those returning from overseas colleges and universities and who will join the growing unemployment lines.

“We do not really need the reports from the ECCB, the CDB, the IMF, the World Bank or the Latin American Monitor to tell us the economy is bad and in a tail spin, because our people are hurting every day. Our people are experiencing a dramatic decline in standard of living. Less money or no money in their pockets,” he told listeners.

He mentioned the plight of scores of small contactors who are unable to provide food not only for themselves but also the skilled and unskilled workers who they have been forced to layoff, while the family members and friends of the Prime Minister and his minsters hog the contracts to build the new prison, the new National Heroes Park and the maintenance, renovation and painting of government-owned buildings and the construction of homes.

Dr. Martin’s statements of a declining economy are borne out by TDC’S recent annual report, which stated that although making a profit, its operations were impacted by decline in Home and Building Depots (St. Kitts and Nevis), TDC Rentals Limited and TDC Rentals (Nevis) Limited, TDC Insurance Company Limited, formerly SNIC, TDC Tours Ltd and St. Kitts Masonry Products. The Drinks Depot registered disappointing performance, while losses were recorded in the Shipping Departments in St. Kitts and Nevis.

“The construction sector was negatively impacted by events in the Citizenship By Investment programme and the resulting down turn in demand for properties to serve it. Public Sector capital investment declined in 2016. Correspondingly, the profit for the Home and Buildings in Nevis and St. Kitts declined. The St. Kitts Masonry Products Ltd reported a significant decline in profit due to a reduction in the demand for blocks and ready mix concrete as the construction industry contracted during the year. TDC Rentals Ltd and TDC Rentals (Nevis) Ltd declined as a number of long-term car rental contracts with several construction related businesses in St. Kitts expired. In addition fierce competition from numerous small independent agencies utilizing used Japanese vehicles has cut into market share and the number of new hire purchase contracts declined.

The ECCB on 14th July revised downward the GDP for St. Kitts and Nevis from 2.84 percent to 2.36 percent for 2017. In January, it had downgraded the GDP from 3.02 percent to 2.84 percent.

The Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) in a recent report said the St. Kitts and Nevis economy contracted in manufacturing output, the overall fiscal surplus narrowed and there was significant widening of the current account deficit.

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