ST. KITTS-Opposition party reiterates call for government to release IMF report

Douglas being interviewed outside of parliament (WINN FM photo)

The main opposition St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) says the decision by the government in refusing to make public the latest report of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the economic performance of the twin island Federation “flies in the face of the democratic tenets of transparency, accountability and good governance”.

Last week, Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris said his administration was using the option available to it on whether or not to make public the IMF’s report on the 2017 Article IV Consultation.

Opposition Leader Dr. Denzil Douglas (File Photo)

“We are not the only country in the last five years who have exercised that option. The IMF reports in particular indicate where there are special circumstances they have obliged in the non-publication in the non-publication of reports for the very reasons the financial secretary says,” Harris told a news conference.

He said the Washington-based financial institution is “not doing an audit, the IMF is doing surveillance, the IMF is providing advice and in some of those areas of advice we have to take time to study them and we have therefore exercised that prerogative with respect to St. Kitts-Nevis”.

But the SKNLP said that “it appears that in Dr. Harris’ view, the IMF is only ‘a good friend of St. Kitts and Nevis’ when its report tells him what he wants to hear.”

“Neither the Minister of Finance nor the Financial Secretary directly answered the question that the members of the media and every citizen want to know: precisely what is the policy advice or data point that has been presented in the IMF report that this administration takes issue with?

“That is the million dollar question that remains unanswered which Dr. Harris and the Financial Secretary defiantly refuse to address.”

The financial secretary, Hilary Hazel, told the news conference that the government continues with its consultation with the IMF “as with any other country that is a member of that body.

“It is also important for us to note that the IMF is not the only credible source of information on the economic performance of the Federation of St. Kitts-Nevis. In fact the economic data that is gathered and distributed by the government…is shared with all our relevant economic partners,” she said including the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

The financial secretary said therefore it was important to put things into “proper perspective” adding “The IMF is not an auditor of the government”.

But the SKNLP said that it was reiterating its call on the present government to publish the IMF report and to end its campaign of hiding or withholding information that is critical to the national interest.

““The parliamentary opposition and the Labour Party demand that the government be forthright in releasing the findings of the latest economic surveillance report of the International Monetary Fund on St. Kitts and Nevis.

“Today I want to make it clear, as the Leader of the parliamentary opposition that if the government chooses not to make the document public then that would be worse for the government than anything that the IMF would have written in it. Holding back the report flies in the face of all the democratic tenets of transparency and accountability that this country stands for and the people demand to know what the IMF has reported, the SKNLP leader Dr. Denzil Douglas added.

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