MONTEGO BAY — Minister of Finance, Hon. Audley Shaw, has expressed support for the formation of an Association of Debt Managers in the Caribbean, noting that nine of the most heavily indebted countries in the world are in the region.
Addressing the seventh annual meeting of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Debt Management Specialists, held on October 19, at the Half Moon Hotel, in Montego Bay, the Minister pointed out that donor nations and organisations are shifting their attention away from agreements with individual countries, to negotiating with trading blocs.
He insisted that countries of the Caribbean region must organise themselves accordingly.
“Apart from establishing this association, this can very well become the best vehicle for member countries to access technical resources from donor countries and agencies, to help them meet their core debt management objectives,” the Minister said.
Mr. Shaw argued that the formation of the association will create an opportunity for countries in the region, not just to exchange information on critical matters, such as debt management, but also to exchange technical expertise, information on investment flows, and establish joint ventures and partnerships.
“Even as we seek to manage debt, we have to carefully balance the need for growth, and we have to balance the need for critical investment in infrastructure,” he said.
The Minister emphasised that the only way for the region to get out of its debt burden is through growth, while arguing that the development of growth strategies, though not the responsibility of debt specialists, has to be of concern to them, because it is not practical for a society to borrow its way out of its debt.
“A society has to invest, be productive, grow and earn its way out of its debt,” he insisted.
Approximately 65 representatives from countries across Latin America and the Caribbean are attending the meeting, which ends on October 21.
By Bryan Miller, JIS Reporter