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Caribbean policy reform threatened by lack of political will says CDB president

Thursday, September 21, 2017

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — President of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Dr Warren Smith, says one of the biggest threats to Caribbean policy reform is the “absence of political will and the lack of implementation capacity.”

The CDB president was speaking at the opening ceremony of the Caribbean Leadership and Transformation Forum earlier this week.

The two-day forum, hosted by CDB, focused on improving implementation in the Caribbean, and finding new ways to deliver results in alignment with the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

“The lack of political will represents a major risk to successful implementation of growth-oriented reform programmes that can transform Caribbean economies. The credibility of many of such programmes has often been undermined by a 'start and stop' approach to decision-making. Decisions to delay or to abandon implementation are frequently influenced by political considerations related to, for example, impending general elections,” said Smith.

“In these turbulent times, the ability to drive through a reform programme necessitates securing buy-in and support from as wide a stakeholder base as possible, including the private sector and civil society.”

The CDB president also emphasised the need for timely and efficient delivery of government services, noting that the implementation rate of public sector reform programmes across the Caribbean ranged between 20 to 75 per cent in recent years, with most countries skewing towards the lower end.

“The commonality of experience points generally to the need to strengthen the human and institutional capacity and improve efficiency and service delivery. This can be achieved through the training of public sector officials and the provision to governments of technical assistance, mainly in corporate governance, procurement and contract management,” he said.

Over 120 regional participants attended the forum, during which they learnt about implementation models that have been tested in countries such as Canada, Malaysia and the United Kingdom, including the concept of a Delivery Unit.

The forum's agenda also included an examination of Grenada's home-grown structural adjustment programme and Jamaica's economic transformation programme.

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