The Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) recorded “slow growth” of just over two per cent last year, due to the passage of the two hurricanes, Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has said.

Skerrit, who chaired the 90th meeting of the Monetary Council of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) on Friday, said that with regards to growth and competitiveness, the Council, comprising mainly finance ministers from the sub-regional organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), was informed the currency union would have grown at a slower rate of 2.3 per cent in 2017 as a result of the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

The two category 5 storms caused widespread damage when they passed through the Lesser Antilles in September last year, with Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda being particularly affected.

Skerrit said in addition, the fiscal surplus for the ECCU was estimated to have narrowed last year “partly attributed to a surge in expenditure following the impact of the hurricanes.

“For 2018, growth is projected at 2.2 per cent still well below the five per cent target. However projections pointed to acceleration in 2019,” Skerrit said.

He said that the Council noted that the capital adequacy of banks in the ECCU has improved and observed that the average non-performing loans ratio which fell in 2015 and 2016 “is trending upward as a consequence of recent hurricanes.