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Given the growing needs of the region, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) should be systematically transformed, in order to make the kind of targeted and effective contribution which is relevant to the countries at this time.
This was emphasized by Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr. Omar Davies, while delivering the opening remarks at the 36th Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the CDB, at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Montego Bay today (May 17).
“At a time when regional economies are facing tremendous challenges to transform, to become competitive, and to reduce poverty, last year’s performance of the bank, in which only 15 loans were approved amounting to just over US$146 million, for both the public and private sectors, we must characterize this as inadequate,” he said.
Dr. Davies, who is also Chairman of the Board of Governors of the CDB, pointed out that the inadequacy was highlighted even further, considering the fact that one of those loans accounted for 35 per cent of the total loan approvals for the period.
He emphasized that while the fiscal pressures and debt constraints of some of the borrowing members of the CDB were readily recognized, the Bank needed to find creative ways to assist those borrowing countries to improve their absorptive capacity.
Pointing out that the net transfer of resources from the CDB to its borrowing member countries decreased to US$20.4 million in 2005, compared with US$122.4 million in 2004, the Minister said that with all adjustments taken into consideration, that level of resource transfer was inadequate.
The Chairman suggested that the Bank, in its present role in the design of the Regional Development Fund, play a more active part in balancing the interest of the various contributors and likely beneficiaries, given its special knowledge of the economic situation of the countries of the region.
He said that even as much thought is being given to the desired size of the Fund, sight must not be lost on the fundamental issue of the absorptive capacity of the potential beneficiaries.
The CDB was established in 1969, and began operations in January 1970. Its present membership consists of 25 regional and five non-regional members.
The 36th annual meeting of the Board of Governors being held in Montego Bay between May 17 and 18 is the fourth time that the institution is holding its annual Board meeting in Jamaica.