The forum brought together top level officials from Caribbean governments, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) , the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) and commercial financial institutions to discuss sustainable ways of growing Caribbean economies in the context of developmental challenges.
Speaking during the opening session, ECCB Governor Sir Dwight Venner made a case for addressing deficiencies in the economic, fiscal and structural frameworks of small island states, particularly recognizing the vulnerability of Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
He said, “Our countries are extremely small, open and vulnerable to external shocks and natural disasters.” In support of his claim, he pointed to examples of the impact of the global financial crisis, that adversely affected the region’s main trading partner, the United States of America, as well as the natural disasters of Montserrat several years ago, Dominica just last week and other OECS countries over the past years.
The vulnerability within the financial sector is one that needs to be addressed if it is to better respond to a greater role in development financing. Sir Dwight explained, “The resolution of the banking sector is a major challenge to us. We have warned the IMF, and to a lesser extent the World Bank, that this cannot be taken as an isolated task. The banking sector, because of its dominant role in our economies, is simply the area that absorbs and reflects the impact of these structural features.”
Sir Dwight opined that it is unfeasible to attain a successful and sustained resolution of the financial sector, “unless it is self-reformed and the underlying and fundamental structural issues are dealt with as well… This is the only way we can get the levels of economic growth required to address our development.”
Venner believes the forum will provide the opportunity to place major issues “on the table”, and that collaboration and coordination is necessary at the regional and international levels in order to achieve goals that are established.