CDB Sounds Note of Caution While Projecting Increased Economic Growth in 2020

CDB President Dr Warren Smith

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Thursday February 13, 2020 – The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) is projecting regional economic growth to increase to 4.1 per cent in 2020 from one per cent last year, powered largely by stratospheric growth in Guyana where oil production begins this year.

President of the Bank, Dr 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 in Barbados, this week, he said: “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 home grown socio-economic reform programmes.”

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

He pointed to Barbados’ progress in bringing its debt ratio down from 127% of gross domestic product in 2018 to under 120 per cent last year.

The Bank President confirmed that the Bank was determined to assist the BMCs reach the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. He cited the work which CDB did in 2019 to assist its BMCS in meeting these goals through modernizing infrastructure and economic reform.

Highlights included: a US$110 million loan and £25.6 million (US$33 million) grant from the CDB-administered United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Fund to St. Vincent and the Grenadines for port modernization; a US$75 million policy based loan to Barbados to support its ongoing fiscal reforms; and a US$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 modernize, it 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,” Dr Smith stated.

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