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Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, says Caribbean countries need to come together and exploit the synergies that exist in order to facilitate growth and reduce the debt stock.

He pointed to the areas of tourism, entertainment, and commodity-focused sectors as areas in which countries could collaborate and share experiences “for the benefit of all”.

“What we need to do is to develop the patterns of collaboration between the investor community, the banking community, the public sector, to ensure two things, one, that we never permit the debt to build up again to this scale that it now currently is…and two, we need to create the business environment that facilitates investment activity at all levels of the investor community, small, medium and large,” he stated.

Dr. Phillips was addressing Tuesday’s (June 18) closing ceremony of the Caribbean Association of Debt Managers two-day forum held at the Iberostar Rose Hall Beach Hotel in Montego Bay.

According to the Finance Minister, the build-up of debt is “presenting itself as a major impediment to the capacity of our countries to grow” and the most important challenge “is how to transition from the debt management agenda to a growth agenda”.

He noted that in many respects, fiscal consolidation represents “the most important initial building block for any growth agenda”.

He said, however, that this will require difficult social adjustments, and it is therefore important for governments to share perspectives with the general population as to the measures that will have to be implemented.

Senior Director, Debt Management Branch, Ministry of Finance and Planning, Pamela McLaren, informed that the two-day meeting, held under the theme: ‘Managing debt under financial distress’ included exchanges among the Caribbean debt managers, and participation from international partners such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Inter American Development Bank (IDB), World Bank and commercial and investment bankers.

She mentioned that there were representatives from about 10 Commonwealth countries across the region.

Mrs. McLean stated that all the issues in relation to debt management were examined, including an institutional and legal framework, along with solutions to get the debt of respective nations on a downward trajectory.

Contact: Bryan Miller