CDB to provide some US$67 million to seven Caribbean countries as part of COVID-19 recovery effort


CDB to provide some US$67 million to seven Caribbean countries as part of COVID-19 recovery effort

Friday, May 22, 2020

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The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) is making available emergency loans to seven Caribbean countries in the first instance to tackle the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as any other shocks to their economy.

The bank approved a total of US$66.7 million for Antigua and Barbuda (US$13 million), Belize (US$15 million), Dominica (US$2.5 million), Grenada (US$5.9 million), St Lucia (US$10.8 million), St Vincent and the Grenadines (US$11.3 million), and Suriname (US$8.2 million).

According to CDB's president Dr William Warren Smith, the provision of support to the seven countries to respond to COVID-19 and keep critical government services and operations running is urgent to halt the economic decline and minimise social hardship, while giving focused attention to the most vulnerable people.

The emergency loans, made under CDB's most concessional terms, will provide vital liquidity and increase Governments' fiscal space to allow these countries to promptly meet their urgent financing needs without diverting resources away from critical social expenditures or health emergency needs.

Caribbean countries are especially vulnerable to the global outbreak due to their heavy dependence on tourism for income and employment.

According to CDB estimates, many of these countries, including those which will be supported with emergency loans, will fall into recession this year.

Real gross domestic product will decline in Antigua and Barbuda (1.5 per cent), Belize (5.4 per cent), Dominica (2.9 per cent), Grenada (10 per cent), St Lucia (9.1 per cent), and St Vincent and the Grenadines (4.8 per cent).

Meanwhile Suriname, which is heavily dependent on gold production and export, was also severely hit and the economy almost brought to a complete standstill. Its economy is forecast to contract by three per cent in 2020.

The Caribbean Development Bank's response to COVID-19 to date amounts to US$200 million, with US$140 million that can be used by the bank's borrowing member countries to finance their response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and US$3 million for the purchase of personal protective equipment.

It is expected that the social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will be significant, stemming from an increase in unemployment and loss of income and livelihoods, as well as substantial disruptions of social services, with women, female heads of households and children, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, and migrants as the most vulnerable groups.

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