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WINN – We do not manage failed economies in the Caribbean, but broken ones and we just need to pick up the pieces. That was the sentiment of the prime minister of Saint Lucia Dr Kenny Anthony while addressing the opening ceremony of the World Bank’s Caribbean Growth Forum on Tuesday morning.
“We need to dispel the widespread view that we are all managing failed economies. I do not subscribe to that perspective. These economies may be broken but I believe we can pick up the pieces. I believe that our historical task is to conceptualize, shape and define an economic model that answers to the times and to our needs,” Anthony said.
“So, challenge yourselves, our development partners and the esteemed panelists to develop a new phase which builds upon the successes of the last CGF, and learns from its shortfalls. Now is the time to discuss. Now is the time to decide. Now is the time to act,” he added.
The Saint Lucian prime minister noted that Caribbean countries have faced a decline in economic growth dating back to the 1990s and which worsened in the world recession years from 2008. He said in the post financial crisis period, even as the economies of the region’s major trading partners began to recover, all Caribbean countries have experienced decelerated foreign direct investment (FDI). Countries especially in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU), he noted, have been most negatively impacted by the global financial crisis.
“My simple point is that there has been no shortage of analysis on these issues. What eludes us is agreement on the solutions and consensus on the way forward,” he said.
“Frankly, we have little time. Our people are becoming impatient even as they lack the will to subscribe to the very reforms that are so necessary to a different future.
“Therefore, our gathering in Saint Lucia for this third region workshop is a further step in both identifying solutions to effect change and building national and regional consensus on these proposed solutions,” he continued.
He suggested the forum, when it started three years ago, produced results for Caribbean countries, but particularly Saint Lucia.
“The launching of the forum three years ago initiated dialogue between representatives from business associations, civil society organizations, government, private sector, and international development agencies on growth and development in the region,” he continued.
Meanwhile, vice president of the Latin America and the Caribbean Division of the World Bank, Jorge Familiar, is expecting some tangible benefits from the forum. He identified some choices he said Caribbean countries have to make to help resolve the issue of low economic growth in the region. One of these areas is that of trade and solving limited connectivity among the countries.
“Movements of goods and services between islands are limited. Caribbean maritime connectivity remains low compared to other small island economies (WB’s Logistics Performance Index average score between 2007-2012 is lower than in other regions: 2.40). Coming to St Lucia, we have all experienced the challenge of limited connecting flights, even for those of you who came from a neighboring island,” Familiar said. “Improving connectivity through air and sea could unlock the potential for tourist’ island hoping and facilitate intra-regional trade.”
Several representatives from the media, private sector, government and community groups are at the forum where issues pertaining to economic growth and innovation in business are being discussed. From St Kitts and Nevis there are representatives from St Kitts and Nevis including Cosbert Manchester, two officials from government ministries, executive director of the HTA Kaloma Hamilton and tourism consultant Roscita Jeffers.