Senior Finance Minister congratulates CDB on milestone attained

-as BNTF launches 10th Cycle, US$30.5 M to be allocated across 9 Participating Countries

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, December 13, 2021: During the opening ceremony today for the virtual launch of Basic Needs Trust Fund’s (BNTF) 10 th Cycle under the theme ‘Reducing the incidence of poverty and building resilience, through an inclusive community development approach’, Senior Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh while delivering remarks, first congratulated the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) on the milestone achieved of serving the Caribbean Region for 42 years as he alluded to some of the work the Fund, under the auspices of the Bank has done in the region. The Minister also commended the Bank for its commitment to the continuity of BNTF and for securing funds to continue the programme.

“BNTF was created with the express purpose of poverty-reduction, and it quickly became well known as the Bank’s flagship poverty reduction initiative. Over the past four decades, interventions have provided access to improved social infrastructure including markets, health posts, resource centres and schools; provided first time access to potable water; improved roads, bridges and footpaths; and provided certified skills-training aimed at enhancing employability and income generation. BNTF initiatives have impacted us all regionally, nationally and most importantly our peoples at the grass roots level,” Dr. Singh posited.

The Minister highlighted the fact that as of February 2017, through the first eight BNTF Programme cycles, over 2,750 sub-projects were implemented to directly impact the lives of more than 3 million people across the region. He noted however that there still remains a number of challenges in spite of these accomplishments.

“Our Region continues to face a vast multitude of development challenges, some longstanding and others new. These include most immediately the COVID-19 pandemic, which has compounded the pre- existing challenges such as climate change vulnerabilities, infrastructure gaps including in such catalytic areas as transport and energy infrastructure, food security issues, global competitiveness and gender equality amongst others. These are issues that pose challenges to our Governments and the Bank. Despite these hurdles, we as Participating Countries have worked diligently to maintain macroeconomic stability, jumpstart our respective economies, deliver national objectives and improve the circumstances of our people, “the Senior Finance Minister said.

Further outlining other accomplishments and challenges faced in Education, Water Access and Sanitization, Basic Community Accessing and Drainage and Human Resource Development (HRD) and Livelihoods, Dr. Singh noted that under the 10th Cycle the CDB will continue to invest and focus on these sectors across 9 Participating Countries.

Also speaking at the event President of the CDB, Dr. Hyginus ‘Gene’ Leon alluded to the CDB’s focus on ensuring that its development discussions center on how the BNTF can strengthen its programme to enhance development outcomes especially given the recent setbacks from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This pandemic has underscored our challenges yet to be resolved, can amplify the impact of shocks that are outside of our control. At the same time, it begs the question of how much more amplification can arise from future shocks if we do not address the compound layering of the impact of COVID-19 and the structural weaknesses that existed before COVID-19. I refer to the poverty, inequality, health and education, economic concentration, low access to affordable financing and inadequate infrastructure challenges of today and the future challenge arising from Climate Change,” Dr. Leon explained.

The CDB President also noted that the launch was quite timely in terms of the end of year period during which it was occurring.

“It is coincidental but quite fitting that this launch is taking place during the Christmas season when focus is on how best to bring hope and goodwill to a world that remains mired in significant economic, social and environmental challenges,” he emphasized.

A total of 30.5 million USD has been allocated under the 10th cycle across the 9 Participating Countries to implement sub-projects. Interventions will be tailored to empower the poor and vulnerable and strengthen institutional development by integrating SDGs and cross-cutting areas such as gender quality and environmental sustainability.

Guyana began receiving Country Project grants from CDB’s Third Programme in 1993 and has continued to benefit consistently throughout the programmes. Minister Singh concluded that BNTF in Guyana has been a success and the benefits and rewards through the many interventions in community development and the provision of basic needs to citizens, particularly in rural and hinterland areas, are undeniable. He noted too that looking forward, Guyana intends to build on the lessons learnt and successes from the previous programmes in line with national priorities.

CDB's Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF) has for over 40 years invested more than $300 million to fight poverty and improve the quality of life in the poorest communities in the Caribbean.

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