Minister Shaw bats for small economies


Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Audley Shaw, has called on the Commonwealth to give special consideration to critical issues affecting small vulnerable economies, such as Jamaica.
He made the call during a special presentation at the recently concluded Commonwealth Finance Ministers’ Meeting in Washington D.C.
Speaking on the theme, “Addressing the Debt Challenge in Small and Vulnerable States: A Commonwealth Agenda”, the Minister noted the severe burden placed on small, vulnerable economies such as Jamaica by indebtedness, and called for, “special consideration of issues pertinent to these economies, such as crime and violence, energy solutions, natural disaster risk reduction and management, and investment promotion, while enhancing social protection mechanisms”.
The Minister also reported on the outcomes of the consultative policy option workshop on measures needed to address the debt problem of Commonwealth Small Vulnerable Economies (SVEs), held in Kingston, Jamaica on September 27.
During the plenary session, Commonwealth ministers shared their experiences of dealing with the economic crisis and the difficult recovery they endured. They stressed the importance of continued international policy dialogue and coordination, as the global recovery begins to take hold. They also welcomed the opportunity the Commonwealth provides for dialogue between G20 and non-G20 members.
The Ministers stressed the need for continued effective international macroeconomic policy coordination to support global economic recovery and stability, and called for broad-based consultations when developing global economic and regulatory policies.
They also emphasised the need to avoid protectionism, tariff barriers and the “rapid and development-friendly” conclusion to the Doha Round of trade negotiations.
A call was also made for renewed focus on promoting economic growth, improving food security and agricultural productivity in the poorest countries, in order to accelerate progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), especially with respect to maternal and child health.
The Finance Ministers and senior officials of the 54 Commonwealth nations discussed two substantive issues: Commonwealth work on Aid Effectiveness and innovative approaches to financial inclusion. They recognized the importance of multilateral institutions in the provision of overseas development assistance, and noted that with increasing pressure on development budgets, globally, it was important that multilateral institutions were as efficient as possible.
The widely expressed view was that the most effective multilateral institutions and bilateral donors were those which most clearly aligned themselves with country priorities. In particular, senior officials welcomed the “new emphasis of donors on strengthening productive capacity to support economic growth”. In this regard they stressed the importance of rapid disbursement and efficient procedures for accessing resources, as well as predictability in the provision of aid.
It was also agreed that the Commonwealth Secretariat has a continued role to play in promoting aid effectiveness and financial inclusion, and that the voice of the Commonwealth must be heard on these issues. They encouraged the Secretariat to seek to find ways of expressing that voice.
During the Washington-leg of the Mission, Mr. Shaw also attended the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.
The presentations and discussions at the meetings focused on recovery from the recent global economic crisis, and the increased role of the IMF and World Bank in response to the crisis, analyses and forecasts of global economic recovery, as well as the need for increased assistance to the poorest member countries.
The Minister, thanked the IMF and the World Bank for longstanding support of the Government and people of Jamaica, more so in recent years which helped to facilitate the progress to date in the country’s macroeconomic programme.
The Minister also called on the IMF and the World Bank, as well as other multilateral institutions, to work with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to move from a partnership of stability to a partnership of growth in the region, with specific focus on policies that can promote economic growth and development in the continued effort to advance economies of the region.
Detailed technical discussions were held with the senior officials of the multilateral institutions on Jamaica’s medium term economic programme, supported by the Standby Agreement with the IMF. The opportunity was also used to brief the executives on the impact of Tropical Storm Nicole on Jamaica.
The Minister expressed satisfaction with the mission to Washington, D.C. and described it as “a very fruitful one”, characterised by rich engagements and positive outcomes.
It occurred at an opportune time for Jamaica, coming on the heels of the successful debt exchange, the passage of the first two tests under the IMF programme, and following the impact of Tropical Storm Nicole on the island, Mr. Shaw said.
“The Government of Jamaica looks forward to the deliberate and continued engagement of our multilateral development partners, as we continue to press toward advancing the Jamaican economy,” he stated.
The delegation for the Washington leg of the Mission was led by Mr. Shaw and included: Financial Secretary, Dr. Wesley Hughes; Governor of the Bank of Jamaica, Brian Wynter; Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Dr. Gladstone Hutchinson; Deputy Governor, Bank of Jamaica, Myrtle Halsall; Deputy Financial Secretary, Darlene Morrison; and Chief Technical Advisor, Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. Wayne Henry.

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