January 22, 2013
World Bank promises talks will produce result

Visiting officials from a number of financial institutions have said that a one-day consultation on economic growth in the Caribbean last week was no talk shop.{{more}}

At a press conference Wednesday, a day before the local leg of the Caribbean Growth Forum consultations, representatives from the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), said that the talks at the Methodist Church Hall in Kingstown would produce results.

“… This will be different from a talk shop,” said Sylvia Dohnert, private sector development lead specialist and executive director of the Compete Caribbean Programme, a branch of the IADB.

“In this consultation, it will not be a one-day event, the three thematic groups that have been outlined will be meeting over a period of a month and a half, to develop an action plan that is implementable, and, in this sense, it is very different from other consultations that have already taken place…,” she added.

Andrea Gallina, World Bank Coordinator of the Caribbean Growth Forum, informed the media that the local leg of the workshop is a process that leads to concrete action and solutions.

He said that St Vincent and the Grenadines has huge potential that is sometimes hampered by restraints that hinder the implementation of reforms.

“The CGF aims to reduce those resistances collectively, and the leadership of this government, with the support of the informational agencies and financial institutions.

“This is not just a conference, it’s a process which aims to identify real actions that can be implemented, and help the private sector to boost the economy and contribute to the growth of the economy under the leadership of a strong government like this one.

“This is a unique opportunity for St Vincent and the Grenadines. It has huge capital and lots of resources that are untapped, and there is a strong government with a lot of political will. What we are trying to do here collectively, is that we want to enhance the political will, and with the support of broad-based coalition of stakeholders from the private sector and public sector and civil society together, to push for those reforms that are needed in the short term to reduce the cost of doing business in the country… to improve the logistics and connectivity, to increase the backward linkages between agriculture and the other sectors especially to attract investments in the country.”

The conference was the fourth so far, with consultations already held in the Dominican Republic, Antigua and Barbuda, and Grenada, and sessions still to take place in St Kitts, St Lucia and Dominica.

Alessandro Legrottaglie, the World Bank’s senior country officer for the OECS and Barbados, pointed out at the press conference the talks would be followed up by regular meetings, which will make recommendations for moving forward, and that a gathering of all territories is being planned for later this year, when all the proposals will be discussed.

Local coordinator of the workshop, Laura Anthony-Browne, said that the workshop is being made possible thanks to a close collaborative effort between the government, as well as private sector and non-governmental agencies.

“Growth is the bottom line. What I think we all agree on is that whatever the growth is, it needs to be higher and more sustainable, and so we are collaborating with all parties to see how, in the interest of our country, we can indeed attain higher levels of economic growth and naturally by extension more development in our country.”

At Friday’s seminar, participants were placed into three working groups, and discussed possible solutions to identified problems.

The groups are expected to meet at different locations during this month for further discussions, which will be followed by a regional meeting, and implementation of plans and policies. (JJ)