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Dr Justin Ram, director of economics at the Caribbean Development Bank, speaking at the CDB Annual Press Conference on February 11, 2020. (Photo: Caribbean Development Bank)

CDB urges countries to build inclusive, resilient economies

Dr Justin Ram, director of economics at the Caribbean Development Bank, speaking at the CDB Annual Press Conference on February 11, 2020. (Photo: Caribbean Development Bank)

Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Director of Economics Justin Ram has called on Caribbean countries to prioritise building inclusive, resilient economies.

Speaking at the CDB’s Annual News Conference, Ram noted, “The Caribbean Development Bank underscores the need to build inclusive and resilient economies, to improve employment opportunities and quality of life for Caribbean citizens. Such economies are characterised by sound macroeconomic management, environmental preparedness, human development, productivity, and competitiveness.”

The Bahamas and Barbados

The chief economist further pointed out how the regional bank has played an integral role in helping countries build resilient economies, highlighting two examples in The Bahamas and Barbados.

CDB approved a US$50-million policy-based loan to The Bahamas after the passage of Hurricane Dorian over the country in September last year, Ram revealed. “Our intervention will help fund the recovery, while keeping necessary reforms on track,” he added.

A man walks through the rubble in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian in the Great Abaco island town of Marsh Harbour on September 2, 2019. (Photo: PBS)

At the same time, CDB continues to support the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation with the disbursement of a second US$75-million policy-based loan to strengthen public finances and improve the business environment.

“The loan will help protect the most vulnerable in society by helping strengthen social protection systems and by improving capacity within relevant ministries,” Ram explained.

Improving service delivery

In addition, the director said the CDB is assisting Borrowing Member Countries (BMCs) to improve their service delivery and implementation.

Last year, for example, Saint Lucia implemented a Performance Management Delivery Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister to deliver results in areas such as agriculture, crime, education, health, infrastructure, and tourism.

According to director of the Projects Department, Daniel Best, CDB’s disbursements rose to US$305 million in 2019, an eight per cent increase over 2018.

Caribbean Development Bank Director of the Projects Department Daniel Best speaking at the CDB’s Annual News Conference on February 11, 2020. (Photo: Caribbean Development Bank)

“Development does not happen without implementation; and the eight per cent increase in disbursements over 2018 is again the result of our renewed emphasis on supervision and providing much needed technical support to our BMCs to implement projects approved,” he said at the conference on Tuesday

Best stated further that for 2020 the bank will focus on building climate-resilient infrastructure, with major road and bridge projects scheduled for Saint Lucia, Belize, Dominica, and Guyana.

Building resilience together

On Monday at the conference, Chairman of CDB’s Board of Governors Kevin Peter Turnques — also the deputy prime minister of The Bahamas — urged Caribbean countries to work together to build resilience.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance — Bahamas CDB Kevin Peter Turnques joined President of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Dr Willian Warren Smith at townhall meeting held during the CDB’s Annual News Conference on Monday, February 10, 2020. (Photo: Caribbean Development Bank)

“If we invest more with each other, we have tremendous opportunity to control much more of our destiny, to be able to stimulate and reinvest our monies within this region for our communities,” he emphasised.

“We mustn’t just look at investments just from a returns perspective but we must look at how we make wise investments that will produce benefit and the opportunity for our economies to become more self-sufficient, ” Turnques added.

The Bahamian argued also that unilateralism has threatened the development of inclusive, resilient economies in the region.