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Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, is anticipating further strengthening of Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) programmes that target key developmental issues affecting Caribbean countries, including Jamaica.

Speaking at the second annual meeting of Central Bank Governors of the IDB Caribbean Country Department’s member states, at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston, on January 17, Dr. Phillips noted that the IDB has been at the forefront in delivering several “novel and innovative” initiatives.

These include: citizen security and youth development programmes which have been “very effective” at integrating the social dimensions in national security and justice efforts.

Against the background of these successes, the Minister expressed the hope for strengthening of IDB programmes targeting several other areas. These, he outlined, include interventions to: alleviate poverty in the region, as well as facilitate fuller and more effective exploration of partnerships on climate, energy efficiency, and the pioneering of renewable energy sources over the medium to long term.

This is necessary, “as we seek to lower the cost of energy in what is essentially a region dependent on the importation of fossil fuel-based energy sources,” Dr. Phillips explained.

Noting that macro-economic stability is a pre-requisite for sustainable growth in any country, the Minister said there are also expectations that the budget support, policy advice, and public financial management and fiscal consolidation programmes that the IDB provides, “will continue to assist us in effecting the fundamental reforms which are needed to correct the systemic weaknesses that characterize many of our economies.”

“There is recognition that our performance in implementing projects and programmes has been sub-optimal with negative net flows being a feature of our co-operation programmes, in too many countries. We anticipate working with the Inter-American Development Bank to find practical ways to smooth the project implementation process. We ask that more assistance be provided to build capacity in the monitoring and evaluation (process), to ensure that the funds which are being sourced from the IDB are effectively utilized, and that our programmes do meet national development objectives,” he said.

The Minister noted that the onset of the global economic recession, over the last four years, has resulted in a “backlog of global unemployment,” which will require the generation of some 400 million new jobs over the ensuing decades, “to prevent any further increase in global unemployment.”

In this regard, Dr. Phillips contended that within the regional context, “our challenge in the Caribbean is to make our economies more competitive and to identify Caribbean goods and services that can compete effectively in the world market.”

The two-day meeting of Governors, held on January 17 and 18, was convened to provide a forum for bi-lateral discussions between member states of the IDB Caribbean Country Department, and the IDB team attending, led by the institution’s President, Luis Alberto Moreno.

Matters discussed included: growth projections for the world economy and the likely impact on the Caribbean; mitigation strategies to prevent any further decline in regional economies; and the challenges to economic growth in the region.