Global crisis still stifling Caribbean
GEORGETOWN – Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary General Irwin LaRocque said that the global economic crisis was having a severe impact on the region resulting in stagnation or declining growth rates.
Addressing representatives from international development partners (IDP), who are meeting here on Tuesday for the Third Forum on Donor Coordination involving CARICOM, LaRocque said the fallout from the global crisis that began in 2008 “is still being felt deeply in this region.
“Stagnant or declining growth rates, high per capita debt, falling fiscal revenues, diminishing fiscal space and increasing unemployment have been a prominent feature of some of the economies of CARICOM member states, particularly over the past few years.
“That situation has severely challenged the capacity of most CARICOM states to self-finance their own development.”
He said grant financing and access to concessionary financial resources to finance development were becoming increasingly more important to CARICOM states, particularly at this time, “when some of our IDP are looking inwards and are even reducing the net outflow of their development cooperation provided through grant aid and concessionary financing”.
LaRocque said that in addition, the region was confronted with the “troubling and vexing issues of differentiation and graduation which deny many of our countries access to such funding.
“To graduate CARICOM member states from access to grant aid, concessionary financial resources or technical assistance, on the basis of per capita income cannot be right.
“Per capita income is, at best, an arithmetic ratio. It does not measure the level of poverty; it does not address the distribution of income; it does not say whether the economy is resilient and on a path to sustainable growth, and it certainly does not measure the capacity of a country to self-finance its growth.”
LaRocque said that as some of the region’s partners shift from bi-lateral assistance to increasing reliance on regional programmes, there was greater responsibility on the CARICOM Secretariat to ensure coordination of the regional resource mobilisation effort, to attempt to minimise any adverse impact of such a shift on individual member states and to ensure value for money and optimisation of the use of these dwindling resources.
He said regional leaders at their summit in Trinidad earlier this month had instructed the Guyana-based Secretariat to design a resource mobilisation strategy to ensure adequate financing of regional and national priorities to catalyse and ignite growth in CARICOM states.
LaRocque said the two-day meeting here “is a step in the design of such a strategy.
“We will familiarise you with our development plans, strategies and priorities. We will jointly examine priority areas in which you can be of assistance to us.
“We will map out approaches intended to ensure that your assistance will facilitate development in our areas of priority and we will address how we can optimise the use of scarce resources.
“As a Community we are looking for results and impact and we would welcome your cooperation and support in that regard,” he said.
A statement issued ahead of the meeting said it would discuss CARICOM’s priorities for economic growth and development with particular focus on the recently launched Aid for Trade Strategy with emphasis on transportation, information and communication technology (ICT) energy, trade facilitation and economic integration. (CMC)