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High oil prices could affect Caribbean economies

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BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS: The Monetary Council of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) is reporting a provisional five percent rate of economic growth in 2005 in the ECCU member states compared to 4.1 percent in 2004, but warns that high oil prices could dampen continued expansion.

According to the Communiqué issued at the end of the 55th Meeting at the Eastern  Caribbean Central Bank (ECCU) on Friday, the expansion was underpinned by a sharp increase in construction activity, estimated at 21 percent compared with 5.3 percent in 2004, and involved substantial expenditure by both the public and private sectors.

“The main activities were associated with preparations for Cricket World Cup 2007, substantial hotel development in a number of countries and reconstruction in Grenada in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan in September 2004,” the Monetary Council said.

The Council, which met under the chairmanship of St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas, while noting the current expansion in economic activity in the ECCU, was nonetheless cognisant of the risks posed by developments in the global economy and, in particular, the high oil prices.

Council, which is made up of Ministers of Finance, noted that given the current economic circumstances and decided to maintain the regulated minimum rate of interest on saving deposits at 3.0 percent and the Central Bank’s discount rate, at 6.5 percent.

The Council Meeting at the ECCB Headquarters in St. Kitts was also so attended by Anguilla’s Hon. Victor Banks; Antigua and Barbuda’s, Dr the Honorable Errol Cort; Prime Minister Hon. Roosevelt Skerritt of Dominica; Grenada’s Hon. Anthony Boatswain; Montserrat Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Margaret Dyer-Howe; St. Lucia’s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Trevor Brathwaite and St. Vincent and the Grenadines Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, Hon. Conrad Sayers.

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