Caribbean broken, but not failed — Kenny Anthony

BY STEVEN JACKSON Business reporter

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

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THE Caribbean islands may be broken, but they are not failed economies, stated Prime Minister of St Lucia Dr Kenny Anthony in opening the 3rd Regional Caribbean Growth Forum (CGF) yesterday.

Concurrently, the World Bank indicated that CGF led to the implementation of over 100 reforms in seven regional countries since its 2012 launch.

"We need to dispel the widespread view that we are all managing failed economies. I do not subscribe to that perspective. These economies may be broken, but I believe we can pick up the pieces. I believe that our historical task is to conceptualise, shape and define an economic model that answers to the times and to our needs," stated Anthony in his opening address at the forum at the Sandals Resort in St Lucia on Tuesday.

The tourism-dependent economies of the Caribbean are expected to grow by 1.7 per cent in 2015 or the second slowest growth region within the world. The forum's location in St Lucia is apt as that country recorded the region's worst performance, with three consecutive years of negative growth between 2012 to 2014.

Anthony challenged the development agencies and panelists to develop a new phase of ideas and reforms to build upon the successes of the last CGF. Most islands in the Caribbean challenged by their small size, vulnerability to external shocks, debt and lack of competitiveness.

"Now is the time to decide. Now is the time to act," he charged participant to end his 26-page speech.

The World Bank indicated that the 100 reforms represented varying levels of success. Jamaica implemented a number of these reforms, which contributed to its rise in the Doing Business Ranking from 85 to 58th. St Lucia implemented 39 per cent of CGF reforms to date, according to Tracy Polius permanent secretary within the Department of Planning and National Development in the Ministry of Finance, Economic Affairs in St Lucia at a media briefing on Monday. She explained that some of the reforms were not possible to implement within 12 months. She said that the country would implement additional reforms it deemed necessary within the medium term.

The World Bank also launched a new report yesterday called Trade Matters, New Opportunities for the Caribbean. The report revealed that, despite high openness to trade of Caribbean economies, that its share in global trade fell from three per cent in the 1970s to nearly a quarter per cent in 2012.

It recommends improving the increasing air and sea connectivity and also increasing productivity by reducing electricity and transport costs.

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