CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Sept 7, CMC – Countries within the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) will record marginal economic growth this year, according to St. Lucia’s Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony. Anthony, who has taken over chairmanship of the ECCU, said that the sub-region would record economic growth of 1.5 per cent this year and 2.2 per cent in 2014. The economic performance of the region continues to be hampered by the global recession and is linked largely to growth in the economies of major source markets like the United States and Europe. Anthony said it was imperative that ECCU member countries – Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts-Nevis, Montserrat, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands - adopt effective strategies to stimulate growth of at least 3.5 per cent between now and 2015 and at least eight per cent in the following years. “We are conscious of the need to stimulate growth as this is linked to the achievement of financial stability, fiscal and debt sustainability and ultimately sustainable employment for our citizens. "In this environment we must pursue efforts to return our economies on a path of growth by carefully selected investment initiatives,” Anthony said. In recognition of the need to aggressively address the region’s debt situation, the St. Kitts-based Eastern Caribbean Development Bank (ECCB) is collaborating with the Centre For Latin American Monetary Studies to develop a proposal to address the peculiar circumstances of small, middle income and highly vulnerable countries. Anthony said that member states were also receiving assistance to strengthen their technical capacities to actively manage their debt portfolios . “The challenges in the 2013/2014 financial year are expected to be similar to those experienced over the last three years, but I am confident that the Monetary Council will rise above these challenges and the exchange rate arrangement and stability of the banking system will be maintained. "Unquestionably the times have been difficult for our people, our government and our financial institutions but we have survived,” he said. The ECCU chairman said despite the challenging environment Eastern Caribbean states have and would continue to be proactive in developing an effective approach to address the impacts of the financial crisis. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that growth in the ECCU, which remained subdued in 2010, recovered “only slowly” in 2011.