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Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has called on the Caribbean Development Bank to do more to assist Caribbean countries restructure and transform their economies in the post trade preference era. She said this expanded role should include financial resources, technical assistance and policy advice that are rooted in reducing and ultimately eliminating poverty in the region.
Mrs. Simpson Miller was speaking today (Wednesday May 17) at the opening of the 36th Meeting of the Board of Governors of the Caribbean Development Bank, at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Montego Bay.
She said that the bank should assist its borrowing members in instances where the constraint is the lack of absorptive capacity, or issues relating to proper project identification and project implementation, as well as insufficient counterpart funding. She said however that borrowing countries could not expect the bank to do more without being in a position to do so financially and otherwise.
In this regard, Mrs. Simpson Miller said non-borrowing members of the bank and the International Financial Community should help the region to place the bank in a position where it can make the kind of contribution necessary to improve the quality of life of the people of the region. She said Jamaica fully supports the efforts of the bank to increase its resource base by way of an expanded membership, a General Capital Increase or a larger Special Development Fund.
She said that while the new thrust for policy based lending is welcomed, this should not have a negative effect on viable and critical projects because of unrelated macro-economic issues. She reminded the Board of Governors that this was a limitation of similar loans implemented by the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank.
The Prime Minister said the bank should realize that other financial entities within and outside the region had become more aggressive and were providing competitive alternatives to financing from the CDB. She said the bank should consider leveraging its ‘Triple A’ rating by way of guarantees that can reduce costs on loans and release funding for other borrowers.
She commended the CDB for its quick response and flexibility in assisting countries recently affected by natural disasters, in particular Jamaica and Grenada that were severely affected by the passage of Hurricane Ivan in 2004. She also lauded the bank for helping to identify a financial solution to the creation of the Caribbean Court of Justice.
She said the bank should consider playing an active role in the Catastrophic Insurance Facility that was being developed for the region.