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On November 29, 2023, the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Executive Board completed the Article IV consultation with Antigua and Barbuda.
The country’s economy is rebounding from the sharp contraction caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, with real activity expected to return to pre-pandemic levels this year.
The growth is projected to be 5.7 percent, primarily driven by a rebound in tourism and construction activity.
The financial sector is stable, with credit growth remaining weak. However, the country still faces several risks, including inflation, an inability to access international capital markets, and climate change.
The Executive Directors of the IMF agreed with the staff appraisal and welcomed Antigua and Barbuda’s robust recovery.
While the near-term growth outlook is favorable, it remains subject to downside risks, including weaker tourism performance, unfavorable financing conditions, and natural disasters.
The Directors emphasized the need for decisive actions to address fiscal and external imbalances and further efforts to improve growth prospects and build resilience.
They highlighted the importance of continued collaboration with the Fund and other development partners.
The Directors also recommended enhancing fiscal institutions to support the credibility of the fiscal framework.
Addressing shortcomings in the transparency and exchange of information frameworks for tax purposes would facilitate an exit from the EU list of noncooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes.
Moreover, the Directors recommended strengthening the social safety net to provide more targeted support for the vulnerable and centralizing programs to reduce coverage gaps and avoid duplication.
The financial sector remains stable and liquid, and the Directors encouraged continued measures to strengthen financial stability.
They recommended incorporating climate risks into the stress testing framework and enhancing the oversight and regulation of credit unions.
The Directors also welcomed the authorities’ commitment to continue to strengthen the Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) and Citizenship-by-Investment Program (CIP) frameworks.
Lastly, the Directors recognized the ongoing initiatives to boost growth and build resilience.
They recommended continuing efforts to boost tourism, increase flight connectivity, and expand opportunities for vocational training.
They also welcomed the efforts to increase donor support for climate change-related projects. The next Article IV Consultation with Antigua and Barbuda is expected to be held in the future.