NASSAU: Warren Smith, President of the Caribbean Development Bank, says the Caribbean needs an eight-pillar approach to attain sustainable growth in the region.
Smith made his remarks last Thursday at the opening of a two-day financial forum in the Bahamas, which brought together finance ministers from across the Caribbean as well as representatives from International Funding Institutions (IFIs) to discuss ways of addressing challenges to growth while achieving fiscal and debt sustainability objectives. The conference was held under the theme “Building Growth into Caribbean Sustainability Agenda – A Concerted Approach”.
Smith listed prudent public investment and debt management strategies, macro-economic stability and the removal of barriers to trade as some of the pillars on which the region’s economy has to be built.
“The Caribbean must confront its vulnerability in all its forms,” he said. “A solid macro-economic position with adequate fiscal reserves and low debt can be a strong bulwark against the vulnerability to external economic shocks.”
Smith also called on Caribbean governments to strive for better accountability and build trust.
“Governments must develop the institutional and policy infrastructure necessary to support good governance practices; and the general public and the private sector need to be adequately equipped to hold their governments accountable,” he said.
While delivering the keynote address, Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie called on the international funding agencies to try to better understand the peculiarities of the island nations of the Caribbean in order to better tailor projects and programs to suit their needs.
“The role that the IFIs play in our efforts to enhance public-private partnership frameworks will be critical,” said Christie. “As long as the multilateral agencies have documented in their research that we are extremely vulnerable to the point that our currencies will in many cases only mitigate as opposed to eliminate some of our economic exposures.”
Hasan Tuluy, regional vice president of the World Bank for Latin America and the Caribbean, said he hoped the conference would lead to a prioritized agenda for growth and prosperity in the region’s economy.
Issues discussed at the conference included the regional growth forum and the implications for the structural reform needs of the region and strategies for restoring sustainability while minimizing the impact on growth and protecting vulnerable groups.