Senior Finance Minister lauds IDB Group’s commitment to continued support to small Caribbean States

-during annual meeting of the Board of Governors of the IDB and IDB Invest

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, March 28, 2022: During the 2022 annual meeting of the Boards of Governors of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and IDB Invest today, held virtually, Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, lauded the commitment of the IDB Group to the continued support to the Caribbean sub region. The Minister was speaking on behalf of the Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, the smallest member countries of the IDB Group.

“The Bank’s instruments to support our countries in achieving our development agendas are crucial and must remain agile to respond to mounting needs in this volatile environment.
Therefore, the Caribbean welcomes the proposal to adjust the instruments on offer. We particularly wish to highlight the important role of PBLs (Performance-based loans) in supporting integral reforms at this critical juncture and support the call for PBL caps to be made more flexible. We also welcome the proposal to exclude green PBLs from counting against the PBL cap,” Dr. Singh said, adding that ‘guarantees will be key in mobilizing private resources to contribute to confronting emerging development challenges and delivering on the 2030 agenda’.

“Therefore, we recommend that emphasis be placed on incentivizing the use of guarantee instruments. We also take this opportunity to express support for the strategic climate change and sustainability facility that will provide new concessional resources for climate action in the Caribbean”, the Minister said.

The Senior Finance Minister reminded that the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in one of the worst recessions in the Latin America and Caribbean Region in a century, causing a 7 percent decline in regional GDP in 2020 – the largest regional contraction in the world as he lamented that for some of the countries in the Caribbean, the contraction was much sharper, especially in the tourism- dependent economies of the Sub-Region.

“Recovery from the pandemic presents an opportunity to transform the development model of the Region while enhancing climate resilience, strengthening the capacity of public institutions, and supporting private institutions in making meaningful contributions towards attaining the 2030 agenda for sustainable development,” Dr. Singh assured.

The Finance Minister further explained that even though LAC’s economy is estimated to have grown by 6.8 percent in 2021, this growth has not been balanced.

“The largest expansion is estimated in Central America at 7.7 percent, followed by the Andean Sub-Region at 6.3 percent, and the Southern Cone at 6.2 percent. On the other hand, the Caribbean is expected to have a milder recovery at 1.9 percent, reflecting the acute vulnerabilities we face in the Sub-Region, even as we are all committed to working towards achieving a more robust recovery”, he said.

“This, coupled with increasing maturing debt, implies amplified gross financing needs. For the Caribbean, the threat of a protracted financial crisis lingers as tourism remains subdued and climatic events increase in frequency and intensity. Consequently, our governments are faced with difficult decisions on prioritizing interventions to stimulate a recovery, support reforms to unlock economic potential, catalytic projects to enhance development prospects, and initiatives to build resilience against the increasing threats of climate change,” the Senior Finance Minister explained further.

He emphasized that against this background, it is crucial for the IDB Group to maintain its Small and Vulnerable and Small and Island Country targets to ensure that support is granted to the countries which require the most assistance in grappling with the economic crisis.

“Therefore, we applaud the language incorporated into the resolution on the proposed new value proposition, which signals a commitment from the IDB Group for continued support to our Sub- Region.” he told the forum.

Dr. Singh concluded by encouraging the IDB Group’s Management to fulfill their pledge to develop a sub-regional strategy for the Caribbean with emphasis on health, education, infrastructure, private sector development, the digital economy, climate change, the blue economy, and the orange economy.

He also encouraged the Bank to move with alacrity in delivering support at the scale needed, on both the public and private sector sides of the Group’s operations, to facilitate a sustainable recovery in the Caribbean and to help the Sub-Region embark on a path towards lasting economic growth and prosperity.

The Minister then reiterated the strong appreciation of the Caribbean for the support provided by the IDB to the sub-region over the years as well the importance of the Group to the development
of Latin America and the Caribbean, in particular. He added that the Bank remains the premier strategic partner of choice in member countries.

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