Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Getting on track

ONE can only wish countries of this region the best as they embarked on what will come down to be a major project to bring stability and economic progress to the Caribbean.

In as much as one or two Caribbean countries continue to register growth whereas the others struggled, it is now recognised that a concerted Caribbean effort is required to improve the lot of the regional people who continue to endure economic challenges.

The project in question is that of reforming the business operating environment in CARICOM member states and creating a work plan for advancing decisions Heads of Government made with respect to the Community’s Growth Agenda.

This project was discussed at the recent Heads of Government Summit in Antigua and Barbuda. It found favour with all the leaders and their delegations who were in Antigua and Barbuda for the Summit.

The Communiqué that was issued following the Summit said that Heads (of Governments) welcomed the Second Report of the Commission on the Economy, which among other things also highlighted the importance of a stable macroeconomic environment as the springboard for the Community’s Growth Agenda.

In their review of the Work Plan, leaders agreed on the formulation of a regional fiscal sustainability framework within six months and the design of a regional debt management mechanism. They as well agreed to appoint a CARICOM Debt Advocacy Team to advocate on behalf of Member States with Development Partners on appropriate debt relief and/or debt amelioration arrangements for the highly indebted CARICOM States.

It is important to note that in formulating a plan to deal with growth, stable macroeconomic environment and a debt reduction, Caribbean countries have a lot on their plate. While therefore it remains an ambitious undertaking, it would require all hands on deck and the widest cooperation possible by all stakeholders.

Governments have recognised that they alone do not have the answers to rebuild Caribbean economies. Many of them lacked the financial resources to do things which they would normally be expected to take the lead in pursuing. Some of them are cash starved because they are not seeing the revenue flows to which they were accustomed.

They cannot borrow like before because they have incurred enormous debt while attempting to undertake rescue missions to cope with the recession.

The Communiqué even reflected this point when leaders stated that growing out of the current burdensome debt is not realistic for certain Member States given their structural and other economic vulnerabilities.

 Roles have been mapped out for the private sectors across the region to partner fully with governments to create economic growth, economic stability and development.

Of late, discussions at both the national and regional levels have focused on Public-Private Sector Partnerships where both are expected to pool resources to get the job done. This was one of the featured events at this year’s annual meeting of the Caribbean Development Bank in Guyana. If one looks at the different economies of the Caribbean, it would be shown very clearly that the private sector remains the engine of economic growth. The end of Summit Document noted as well that Leaders mandated the Commission to address the regulatory framework required to promote venture capital and other new financial products and innovative financing schemes to support the Growth Agenda. Kudos to the efforts.

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