St. Lucia has said it is concerned at the slow level of disbursements to the island by the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) even as it praised the region’s premier financial institution for continuing to play a key role “in financing our interventions as we attempt to integrate international commitments like the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Addressing the 49th annual meeting of the CDB’s board of Governors, the island’s Economic Development Minister, Guy Joseph, said that notwithstanding the size of the approved financing for the island, there were several concerns that regarding the CDB’s borrowing to St. Lucia.
He said these included the low level of disbursements; the slow rate of project implementation and the net negative resource flows from CDB.
“The low-level disbursements and slow implementation mean that the approved projects lose momentum and therefore fail to have the intended impact on the lives of citizens. In that respect, of particular concern, is the net negative flow from CDB to St. Lucia which has been increasing in recent years and now averages USD10 million per annum,” Joseph told the meeting that ends here on Thursday.
He said that he is aware that the issues of low disbursement and slow project implementation have been long-standing agenda items at various forums within CDB.
“Accordingly, St. Lucia is keen to see some concrete actions being taken to address these issues. In that respect, I am encouraged by the proposed interventions by CDB, to increase capacity within countries and review its own internal processes with a view to making them more flexible and relevant to actual circumstances on the ground,” he added.
Earlier Joseph said that as the bank prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary, it continues to play a critical role in the socio-economic development of its Borrowing Member Countries (BMCs).
“This role is particularly important given that the BMCs are Small Island States that are grappling with the challenges of climate change while remaining afloat on the rough seas of the dynamic global economy.
“CDB continues to be a key partner in financing our interventions as we attempt to integrate international commitments like the Sustainable Development Goals into our socio-economic planning,” Joseph said, adding that in pursuit of that objective, St. Lucia is currently in the process of formulating its Voluntary National Review (VNR) with a view to reporting at the High Level Political Forum at the United Nations in July 2019.
He said Castries has been grateful for the support that it has received from CDB over the years.
“Our loan portfolio covers a wide cross-section of our economy with approvals at the end of November 2018 amounting to USD375.3 million.
“This is a significant amount that has benefited us in arears of water and sanitation, health care, education and infrastructure.”.
Joseph said that he wanted to commend CDB for its initiative in funding St. Lucia’s implementation of the delivery approach to driving results on the ground.
He said the first phase of the initiative involved the identification of six key result areas or national priorities which came out of a wide-ranging consultation process among the private and public sectors, while the second phase involves setting-up the Delivery Unit within the Office of the Prime Minister.
“After the current period of hand-holding, the plan is that the overseas experts will hand-over to the local team by the first quarter of 2020.
“St. Lucia is eager to deliver on the success of this initiative and has therefore adopted it as the framework within which it will execute its Medium-Term Development Strategy for the period 2019-2022. We understand the interest that this approach has generated among BMCs and see it as part of the solution to the implementation problems the region faces,” Joseph said.