The Board of Governors of the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) ended a two-day “productive and successful” annual meeting here on Thursday indicating that the regional countries were beginning to come to grips with the effects of globalisation while at the same time seeking to transform their economies.
CDB president Dr. William Warren Smith told the closing session of the meeting that the transformation was taking root in the region “and we are seeing signs of it beginning to blossom”.
He said it was therefore necessary for the various strategies to be adopted to develop the talent and possible future of the region’s young people adding that the ‘challenge for us is to facilitate and nurture this growth.
“Can we then recover from the missteps of the past? Can we promise this generation and the ones that come after that their future will be a sustainable one and that they will enjoy a legacy of prosperity?”
He said in proceeding to deal with the situation, he was heartened by the clarity of thought and guidance that came from meeting, adding “there is common acknowledgement that the development equation in our region has become more complex.
“But there is also the same understanding that that equation is soluble,” he said making reference to digital transformation, which he described as ‘indispensable” and “will change the way we live, consume and produce.
“Harnessing digital power is equivalent to securing our future. We must put our youth in the driver’s seat and at the centre through high quality and equal access to education.”
Smith said that the private sector, particularly the micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, has to be crowded into the development narrative in a way that is sustainable.
“The role of institutions like CDB is to provide the right incentives so that fledgling entities can find their feet, mature and flourish. This cycle must be repeated until we have a critical size market that demonstrates dynamism and competitiveness.”
The CDB president said that the environment also has to be taken into consideration and that “green” growth that is inclusive is not an option but a necessity.
He said helping countries to fulfil their nationally determined contributions within the context of the UN COP 23 and constraining temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees must be the mantra.
“Responding to climate change presents immense challenges and opportunities for development, making it essential that climate and development issues be tackled in an integrated way. At CDB, we will scale-up our own climate financing. We will also build stronger partnerships to deliver blended climate finance whilst facilitating our Borrowing Member Countries’ (BMCs) access to global and other resources available for climate action.”
Smith said that as the bank seeks to widen its development footprint in the region, a very real constraint is the BMCs’ absorptive capacity.
“This issue came out poignantly in our deliberations,” he said, noting that he was referring to both of the region’s debt carrying capacity and its implementation capacity.
“Our region’s debt is an extremely heavy burden. We have to commend the efforts of those countries which have taken decisive policy action to lighten that burden, by embracing sustainable fiscal and debt management policies and practices.
“For our part, we can support these initiatives by seeking to be as concessional as practicable in our lending. This response demands that CDB continually explore cheaper sources of financing for on lending to our BMCs, blend resources, and leverage strategic partnerships.”
Smith said in this regard, he cannot over-emphasise the important role that the Special Development Fund must continue to play in helping the BMCs to meet their significant commitments under the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
He said strengthening regional implementation capacity is an imperative for the bank’s successful engagement in the region, saying it speaks to the heart of development effectiveness and also impacts our institution’s bottom line.
“Going forward, therefore, greater emphasis will be placed on addressing the bottlenecks to implementation, whether institutional or legislative. Strengthening country planning systems in a way that supports improved long-term development planning that is conducive to growth is critical,” he said, adding “collectively, we can and will overcome this problem”.