– event to bring together Region’s economic leadership to deliberate on challenges
ON May 28 and 29, Guyana will host the Annual Board of Governors’ meeting of the Region’s premiere development institution and leadership in economic and financial system, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). Minister of Finance and Chairman of the Board of Governors, Dr. Ashni Singh, while speaking on the National Communications Network (NCN) on the issue of Guyana’s preparedness with regard to its hosting of the bank’s 44th Annual Board of Governors’ meeting, said the country is on track to host the event. He said planning and preparation for the meeting which started some time ago, have intensified over the recent days and weeks.
“It is an extremely important event in the annual calendar of events for the Caribbean, and Guyana considers itself privileged to host this meeting,” Minister Singh said.
He said the meeting is happening at an important time for the Region and the institution, that itself has an important mandate.
Dr Singh pointed out that the Region is facing extremely severe economic challenges that require hard decisions, firm resolve and strong will to confront and overcome them. He noted that since its establishment, the CDB has grown in strength and size and has discharged in a most admirable fashion its mandate of supporting economic and social challenges across the Caribbean.
Dr Singh said the meeting will serve to focus on the institution with regard to the role it can play in consolidating support for the Region.
Minister Singh explained that the meeting, which will comprise several components, in addition to being a meeting of the shareholders of the CDB for the annual reports, performance over the past year, audited financial statement and so forth, importantly brings together the economic leadership of the Region to reflect and deliberate on the challenges of the Region and to chart a course forward for confronting those challenges.
The Guyanese Finance Minister noted that more significantly, the economic leadership together will seek to define or help to influence the role that the CDB will play in helping the Region and the individual member states to confront those challenges.
There will also be a number of special forums organised around the meeting that coincide with the gathering of the Regional leaders and which will address a number of pressing issues confronting the Region, including climate change, financial sector issues, debt and indebtedness and fiscal sustainability, Minister Singh noted.
Further, there will be activities aimed at broadening awareness and participation of economic issues confronting the Region, which will be specifically aimed at involving youth. But even more, is the opportunity presented for bilateral engagements among the economic leaders in the Region, and as well, the opportunity for Guyana to be showcased to the rest of the world, whether by way of social events or tourism activities, Minister Singh pointed out.
During the meeting, Guyana will take centre stage with regard to the issue of agriculture and climate change. Guyana has been on the forefront of the global advocacy effort on the issue of climate, and in particular on the peculiar threat faced by the small states of the Caribbean and the role of forest in contributing to the global fight against climate change.
Guyana is the only net exporter of food in the Caribbean and continues to see itself as potentially the food basket of the Region.
Agriculture is not only viewed as an important opportunity for growth and investment in Guyana, but very importantly as an important strategy for addressing some of the macro-economic challenges faced by the Region.
Meanwhile, Minister Singh also recognised CDB’s support to Guyana and the institution’s optimism about the country’s outlook. Earlier this year, the institution’s president, William Warren Smith made several pronouncements about the country, including the fact that Guyana, along with Haiti and Suriname, are expected to lead the Region’s growth in 2014. He also praised the vibrancy of the Guyanese economy, which Minister Singh noted.
“We have been shareholders of the bank from its inception, and the bank has seen Guyana through some of our most difficult years, through the 70s and 80s when the Guyanese economy was literally on its knees. Since we have embarked on the important economic reform of the 90s and over the past decade, the bank has not been reluctant to recognise the boldness of the decision that we have taken, the appropriateness of some of the policy decisions that we have adopted, and the favourable results that have flowed, therefore… the bank has been very clear that in recent years, the Guyanese economy has been a strong performer, has contributed significantly to Regional economic well-being, and that Guyana has an even greater role to play going forward, whether it is contributing to agriculture production, or whether as an investment in regional business..
“The bank has been proactive in playing its part, in positioning and situating itself to be a part of this bright future that it believes Guyana has, and so the bank has been investing in partnering with us with both large-scale and small scale infrastructure projects,” he said.
CDB funding in Guyana has been used for financing social and economic infrastructure, such as schools, road and water projects, building more disaster-resistant structures, community skills training and support for small and medium-sized enterprises.
Guyana has benefitted from the special development fund as well from loans totalling almost US$28M to strengthen sea and river defence systems.