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Dr William Warren Smith, President, CDB, delivers his opening statement at the bank’s 48th Annual Meeting in Grenada.

Although hurricane reconstruction efforts bolstered economic activity in the Caribbean region, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) President Dr William Warren Smith revealed that 2019 was another year of lacklustre growth for the bank’s Borrowing Member Countries (BMCs).

In the CDB’s 2019 Annual Report, Smith said: “Economic growth of only 1% in 2019 mirrored the relatively sluggish international economy, constrained by increasing global trade, political tensions and mounting social protest.”

Smith added that the effects of drought in some BMCs also negatively affected the economic performance of the region.

According to Smith, the achievement of a sustainable rate of economic growth is at the forefront of the region’s development agenda.

He maintained that this imperative underpins the commitment made in 2015 to support the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – a global blueprint for ending poverty, achieving a level of human development that is fair and inclusive, and offering a more sustainable future for all by 2030.

Smith noted that generating inclusive and sustainable growth and shared prosperity require ensuring that all people have access to decent work, social protection, and financial services.

He said that this thrust provided the framework for CDB’s approvals and disbursements totalling US $340million and US $306million, respectively in 2019.

“We responded to our BMCs’ need for major investments in infrastructure that will not only create jobs but lay the foundations for long-term growth,” Smith said.

In pursuit of the Bank’s mandate, Smith contended that the institution aims to ensure that all Caribbean people can fulfil their true potential – free from poverty, ill-health and inequality.

He said as a result, people are the ultimate beneficiaries of the CDB’s projects and these individuals take centre stage in all of its interventions. In Jamaica, the CDB said funding will provide essential production and market infrastructure and marketing systems to help small and medium-sized farmers to boost their productivity and gain increased market access.

While in T&T, the CDB also targeted small and medium scale enterprise development by channelling a line of credit through a financial intermediary.

Also featuring in the CDB’s 2019 programme was the restoration of macroeconomic stability. Smith said: “We sought to achieve in our BMCs by providing budgetary financing in support of fiscal and other reforms aimed at transforming these economies for sustained economic growth and development.”

The financing needs of the BMCs are enormous, and Smith added that these needs are demanding resources far beyond CDB’s capacity. At the strategic level, therefore, the CDB continued to pursue and leverage international partnerships to secure improved access to concessionary funds.

Smith also said that the Bank has been undergoing an internal transformation programme to make the CDB stronger and more relevant while enhancing organisational efficiency, effectiveness and financial viability.