The initial conference held last week (February 26) is part of a regional initiative facilitated with support from the World Bank, Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and Inter-American Development Bank (IADB).
Government’s Deputy Financial Secretary Calvin Edwards appeared on this week’s edition of SKNIS radio magazine, Perspectives, and indicated that organizers were quite pleased with the progress to date.
“I think it was a conference with a difference,” he stated. “… we had three groups – Logistics and Connectivity, Skills and Productivity, as well as Improving the Investment Climate. … The groups were given the task of identifying certain impediments in each of the areas and to come up with solutions.”
“Each group functioned very well, [and] expectations were all achieved in that we were able to get through a lot of work with the three groups.”
The high cost of inter-island travel and transportation in the Caribbean Region was highlighted as one of the key concerns of local business executives. To highlight this, it was pointed out that freight costs from Miami, Florida in the United States to Argentina in South America usually costs less than shipping from Miami to St. Kitts and Nevis. Another point emphasized the need to increase the soft skills and technical capabilities of persons entering the workforce.
The priority areas from the conference will be explored even further by members of each committee that will meet regularly over the course of the next six weeks to come up with specific interventions.
The discussions are being guided by local consultants Euphemia Brice-Roberts, Burchell Crooke and Rosecita Jeffers. The intervention strategies identified by each group will be submitted to funding agencies such as the CDB, IADB, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
Mr. Edwards encouraged residents to follow the progress of the committees by visiting www.caribgrowth.gov.kn.
The Caribbean Growth Forum was launched in Jamaica in June 2012. Since then, National Chapters have been established in the Dominican Republic, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and St. Lucia. Indications are that Dominica and Jamaica are next in line to establish National Chapters later this month.