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CIBC pushing to strengthen Caribbean infrastructure in face of stronger hurricanes

Monday, December 18, 2017

Jamaican banker Nigel Holness is convinced that the extremely active 2017 hurricane season and the devastation of several Caribbean islands by hurricanes Irma and Maria in September have brought into sharp focus the need for infrastructure development focused on resilience.

According to Holness, managing director, CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank, Jamaica, it is clear that provisions made to help Caribbean islands face the adversities of local conditions such as weather and infrastructure systems have to be improved to meet the social, humanitarian and economic demands of the islands.

“Infrastructure development is an area in which CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank is well vested,” Holness told delegates attending the Caribbean Infrastructure Forum (CARIF) hosted by IJ Global and New Energy Events at the Hilton Rose Hall in Montego Bay last week.

His bank, he said, was ready to support projects which build resilience and infrastructure and to ensure they are “credit-enhanced to attract broader investor participation and unlock the full potential of infrastructural development in the Caribbean”.

Holness argued that raising the quality of infrastructure by one standard deviation increases the growth rate by several percentage points and, as such, “improving the quality of our infrastructure will boost our economic growth”.

He noted that a number of Caribbean islands are in need of improvements in infrastructure as they are old, inadequate and, in many situations, insufficient to meet today's population needs.

Pim van der Burg, managing director, corporate and investment banking at CIBC FirstCaribbean, supported Holness's views and told the forum that CIBC FirstCaribbean will partner with its corporate and sovereign clients to find solutions for these challenges facing the Caribbean, while the region's government and business leaders search for ways to restore and strengthen the infrastructure in the region.

“Our bank has a strong track record of advising on and financing complex infrastructure projects, [has] executed some significant advisory and capital markets mandates and won multiple awards which included the prestigious IJ Global 2016 North America Port Deal of the Year Award for its role in the US$265-million Kingston Container Terminal transaction,” van der Burg said.

The forum focused on a cross section of topics related to various infrastructure sectors including: energy and utilities, airports, water systems, health care delivery, and tourism.

Panel discussions covered issues such as the Caribbean outlook and demand infrastructure and related services, creating competitive advantages, logistics, procurement, financing, value creation, and climate resilience infrastructure planning.

The form was also addressed by Jamaica's Finance Minister Audley Shaw; Jamaican/Canadian entrepreneur, president and chairman of Portland Holdings Michael Lee-Chin; premier and minister of finance, Bermuda, David Burt; and Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson, premier, Turks & Caicos Islands.