Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Chairman and Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley announced the restructuring of the CARICOM Development Fund (CDF) last week Wednesday, February 19, on the final day of the 31st Inter-sessional Meeting of the Conference of the Caribbean Community.
During a press conference held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Mottley said the management of the CDF has “bedevilled the community for some time” because its purpose — to assist disadvantaged countries, sectors, and regions — has been hampered.
“Member states have committed to capitalising this fund, but this will never be enough to do what needs to be done, particularly with all of the challenges that the region faces at this point in time. Yesterday, I outlined a number of them and we keep seeing new challenges as we did with the COVID-19, and to that extent, therefore, we feel strongly that we need to revisit the structure of the CARICOM Development Fund,” she said.
As a result, the restructuring of the CDF will allow CARICOM to raise additional funds from individuals, companies, institutions, regional countries, and extra-regional countries.
Mottley revealed further that the restructuring would be long term and, therefore, ultimately facilitate the development of regional institutions that have been overtaken by technological advancements which have either made them obsolete or uncompetitive.
Once the restructuring has been completed, the CDF would become one of the key pillars of the integration movement, Mottley explained, as it will allow leaders to deal with the differences that exist as far as size and capacity are concerned.
The CARICOM chairman reasoned, too, that in any single market and single economy there would be winners and losers since the decisions of heads of government would “make a significant difference” to the region’s development.
So far, Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis Dr Timothy Harris has welcomed the efforts advanced to strengthen the CDF, headquartered in St Michael, Barbados.
“The Federation of St Kitts and Nevis has received support for projects both on Nevis and on St Kitts,” the prime minister Harris said Wednesday, February 19th, 2020, after returning from Barbados.
For example, he said, the South Frigate Bay Enhancement Project has received aid through the CARICOM Development Fund’s Country Assistance Programme (CAP) for St Kitts and Nevis to further develop the Frigate Bay Strip.
Also, last February Prime Minister Harris and the CEO of the CARICOM Development Fund Rodinald Soomer signed a loan agreement to provide US$3 million in concessional resources to the Development Bank of St Kitts and Nevis for on-lending to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
That signing ceremony took place at the conclusion of the 30th Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of CARICOM Heads of Government, held in the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis at the Marriott Resort.
Under this agreement, the business support to SMEs includes improved access to direct financial and technical assistance, which will facilitate further growth and job creation in St Kitts and Nevis.