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CDB President: Region needs bold approach to economic resilience


CDB President: Region needs bold approach to economic resilience
Dr Hyginus ‘Gene’ Leon. (GP)

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Barbados and its neighbours must become economically resilient in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, says Caribbean Development Bank president Dr Hyginus “Gene” Leon.

He gave this assessment this morning at the official start of the Barbados-based financial institution’s 51st Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors, which is being held online.

Delivering his first  board of governors’ statement, Leon said he expected his five-year term to be “challenging but potentially impactful”.

He added that “the confluence of unfinished structural challenges, evolving climate change, and amplifying impact of the COVID-19 pandemic leaves policy makers with little choice but to confront the creation of our future in a bold and decisive manner”.

“Since the first case of COVID-19 was recorded on March 10, 2020, the pandemic has wreaked havoc on Caribbean economies and societies. As a health crisis, the pandemic has placed a heavy burden on health systems, likely not designed for this kind of impact,” he said.

“From an economic perspective, it led to a collapse of economic activity with unprecedented negative growth rates; set back the steady gains in poverty alleviation and inequality; put in slow-motion the educational advancement of our youth and underlined the pernicious vulnerability of export concentration.

“Our tourism-concentrated economies have been severely hit, as were counterparts worldwide; and many of our social protection systems hang precariously in the balance.”

Given these major challenges, Leon said the region needs to be resilient in its quest for sustainable and inclusive growth.

“Because sustainable livelihoods are founded on the principles of stable ecosystems, resilience needs to be interpreted broadly to include resilience in social development (health and education); in institutional capacity; in the environment (markets and nature – disasters/hazards); resilience to external shocks (trade, spillovers); and by extension, resilience in the integration of all of these on macroeconomic outcomes,” he told the meeting. (SC)