World Economy

Caribbean Forum Important for Regional Collaboration

Caribbean Forum Important for Regional CollaborationCaribbean Forum Important for Regional Collaboration

The Caribbean forum is a valid platform for energy, tax and financial collaboration in the Caribbean, deputy managing director for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said.

“The Caribbean forum has been an important platform for collaboration and for advancing solutions to the difficult challenges the region faces. This year we focused squarely on three key issues that pose challenges to greater competitiveness and growth: inefficient and costly energy provision, ineffective tax regimes for investments, and fragilities in the financial sector,” Ria Novosti quoted Min Zhu, Deputy Managing Director for the IMF, as saying in a press release published on the IMF’s official website.

Different proposals on energy provision, taxation, and financial sector were discussed at the forum.

The Unlocking Economic Growth forum was held in Montego Bay, Jamaica, on October 23-24, and was the third in the series hosted by the IMF and the government of Jamaica. It brought together finance ministers and central bank governors from across the Caribbean to tackle the key problems of the region.

  Global Effort

Jamaica’s Finance Minister Dr. Peter Phillips warned that sustainable growth and development in the Caribbean will not be possible without a coordinated global effort to assist the region.

Phillips told the forum that the impact of the 2008 global financial crisis has had a severe impact on Caribbean countries, and the effects were still lingering.

“When coupled with the high debt that many of these countries are experiencing, the impact manifests in low or no economic growth,” he said, pointing to some Caribbean countries that have either entered into programs with the Washington-based financial institution or are working with the Fund to lessen the impact of the crisis.

However he noted that fiscal consolidation limits the ability of any government to support growth and that while there have been signs of support, particularly in the areas of climate change and gender affairs, much more is needed.

“For example, a regional strategy for energy needs to be placed on the table,” he said, noting “there have been public announcements on increased support for middle income counties, a moniker which inadequately describews the realities we in the Caribbean face.

“While Caribbean nations unequivocally qualify as small island states, the support provided up to now, relative to similar regions, has been largely in rhetoric than performance,” Phillips said, adding that it is now necessary to revisit the foundations of regional endeavours and arrangements.

“It is time we look at the current CARICOM (Caribbean Community) taxation treaties and discuss the Common External Tariff. Regionalism needs to not only induce growth but must be equitable.

“With the limitations all regional governments face, it is important that we continue to encourage the private sector to look at the opportunities that exist, and to invest in the region’s future.