GEORGETOWN, Guyana: Minister of finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, has urged the international community to take a special interest in offering debt relief to the Caribbean.
Dr. Singh made the call when he addressed the second meeting of the Caribbean Development Roundtable (CDR) hosted by the government of Guyana with the support of the United Nations Economic Commission of Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
Singh insisted that ECLAC had an important role to play “in helping us to move from the emotional aspect about our vulnerability and our peculiar challenges, to a more credible case being made to the international community about the circumstances of the small states of the Caribbean”.
The finance minister also encouraged closer regional integration with a view to embracing hemispheric opportunities.
The forum centred on discussions about policies and strategies intended to encourage modern thinking in the search for solutions to current development challenges within the Caribbean and Latin America.
Under the theme “Macro-economic policy for structural transformation and social protection in Small States”, participants examined how development in small states may be pursued in the post-crisis global economy through greater economic diversification, improved access to finance and strengthened social protection, despite fiscal constraints.
Executive Secretary of ECLAC, Alicia Barcena, commended Guyana’s President Donald Ramotar’s vision, “which is very much in line with the mandate of ECLAC, and that mandate is basically how to reduce inequality – how to address poverty, gender equality and advancing sustainable development”.
Discussions at the forum also focused on the fiscal crisis among several Caribbean countries. This forum focused on the many challenges faced by small states, including limited fiscal space and lower growth. The panelists sought to identify new approaches to limit the impact of internal and external shocks on the economies.
Focus was given to creating a macro-economic policy to reduce the impact of external shocks on Caribbean economies; macro-economics for development and diversifying productive structures and improving access to finance in the Caribbean sub-region.
The challenges in financing new service activities in small states were also explored in the context of the decline in access to international finance. Attention was given to identifying alternate sources of finance including funding from Diaspora communities, and developing and financing new activities in the Caribbean.
One discussion moderated by Singh focused on the challenges to maintain social safety nets in an era of reduced government resources and limited fiscal space in the Caribbean. It also examined ways of improving labour productivity while creating the conditions for labour protection and security in the Caribbean. In addition, this agenda item also considered the importance of child-sensitive protection policies in the Caribbean sub-region.