CDB projects 2020 ‘growth will be uneven’ urges policy reform conducive to growth

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) is projecting regional economic growth to increase to 4.1 percent in 2020 from one percent in 2019, powered largely by stratospheric growth in Guyana where oil production begins this year.

President of the CDB, Dr William Warren Smith noted that this growth will be uneven, and urged the Borrowing Member Countries (BMCs) of the bank to pursue policy reforms conducive to sustainable rates of growth, speaking at the bank’s annual news conference on Tuesday in Barbados.

“Economic growth will remain lopsided and below the sustainable rates needed for long-term resilience. BMCs like Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica and St Kitts and Nevis must stay on course with their homegrown socio-economic reform programmes.”

“Others should join the bandwagon and commence, with alacrity, implementation of their own adjustment programmes,” he urged.

The bank’s president reported on the progress that several BMCs implementing economic adjustment programmes, noting improved fiscal performance and debt ratios in several states in 2019; pointing to Barbados’ progress in bringing its debt ratio down from 127 percent of gross domestic product in 2018 to under 120 percent last year.

Dr Smith confirmed that the bank was determined to assist the BMCs to reach the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. He cited the work which CDB did in 2019 to assist its BMCs in meeting these goals through modernising infrastructure and economic reform, including:

  • A USD$110 million loan and GBP25.6 million grant from the CDB-administered United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Fund to St Vincent and the Grenadines for port modernisation;
  • A USD$75 million policy-based loan to Barbados to support its ongoing fiscal reforms and;
  • A USD$50 million policy-based loan to the Bahamas to assist with recovery post hurricane Dorian and the continuation of the government’s economic reform programme.

The CDB head noted that even as the bank focused on helping its BMCs to improve and modernise, CDB was also striving to “become better equipped to partner with BMCs” through its ongoing internal transformation programme which started in 2019.

“Some immediate tasks call for deepening our customer relationships and becoming more responsive to BMC needs; supporting capacity and institution building; and ramping up the pace of disbursements so that the projects can deliver, even faster, the promised development impacts,” he said.

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