WASHINGTON, March 10, 2010 – World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick will travel to Dominica to meet on March 11 with the heads of government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries to discuss the impact of the global economic crisis on the region, climate change and other key development issues.
“CARICOM countries have been severely hit by the global crisis. The worst of the crisis may be behind us but 2010 will be a challenging year, with a slow and uneven global recovery,” Zoellick said. “The World Bank Group is committed to helping Caribbean countries address the unique challenges that small islands face. I thank the people of Dominica for hosting our meetings and I am looking forward to a fruitful discussion to devise ways to continue to support CARICOM countries.”
The Dominica meeting follows a previous meeting between Zoellick and CARICOM countries held in Istanbul in October 2009 during the World Bank Annual Meetings. The meeting in Dominica this week will take place during the Twenty First Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM.
The World Bank’s current portfolio in the CARICOM countries includes 45 operations that focus on economic policy, urban development, and education, among other areas, for a total of $733.7 million. In addition, it manages over 70 active Trust Funds for an equivalent of $89.6 million in grants. The Caribbean portfolio also includes six regional projects that support public sector modernization, telecommunications, catastrophe risk insurance and disaster risk management, HIV/AIDS prevention and control, conservation of biodiversity and managing the impacts of climate change.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, has ramped up investment and advisory operations in the Caribbean over the past three years, with the support of donors and consistent with the governments' priorities, to make sure its approach helps address the challenges in this region. Since July 2008, IFC has invested more than $133 million and more than doubled the number of projects to 21 in the CARICOM region, including investments and advisory services. In addition, IFC’s board of directors has recently approved $35 million in emergency financing to support private companies in Haiti restart operations and create jobs, in the wake of the devastating earthquake that struck the country in January.
Background about the World Bank Group’s work in the CARICOM countries:
The World Bank recently resumed its activities in Belize and is supporting service delivery improvements in several municipalities.
The Education for All/Fast Track Initiative ($12.2 million) aims to achieve universal primary school completion for all children by 2015. The Bank is supporting the Conservancy Adaptation Project ($3.8 million), which seeks to reduce the vulnerability to catastrophic flooding in low-lying coastal areas that are threatened by sea level rise.
In a meeting on Tuesday, March 9 in Washington D.C. with Haiti President René Preval, Zoellick expressed his condolences for the tragic loss of life from January's earthquake and pledged the World Bank Group's continued support for government-led efforts to reconstruct the country.
The World Bank is a close partner of Haiti. There are 14 active World Bank projects in Haiti focusing on areas including disaster risk management, infrastructure, community-driven development, education, and economic governance. All current World Bank assistance to Haiti is in grant form.
Since January 2005, the International Development Association has provided a total of $308 million for Haiti. In addition, trust funds administered by the World Bank have provided more than $55 million since 2003. These amounts do not include the $100 million in grants announced on January 13, 2010, in response to the earthquake
In June 2009, the World Bank, along with the IMF and other donors, granted Haiti $1.2 billion in debt relief through the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative. Since 2005, the World Bank’s financial support for Haiti has been carried out through grants. The IFC recently announced a $35 million emergency investment in Haiti to create jobs.
A recently approved $200 million loan for budget support seeks to enhance fiscal and debt sustainability, increase the efficiency of public financial management and budgeting processes, and increase tax revenues through improved tax administration.
The Inner City Basic Services Project ($29.3 million) is helping improve the social, economic and physical conditions of inner city communities by providing access to basic infrastructure (roads, water, sanitation, drainage) and employment opportunities.
Montego Bay Airport: IFC provided $21.2 million for the redevelopment and expansion of Sangster International Airport (SIA) in Montego Bay, the principal gateway to Jamaica’s resorts. By the end of the project, SIA’s annual handling capacity will have been boosted to 7 million passengers a year, eliminating capacity constraints for the foreseeable future, and supporting trade and tourism.
Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Monserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines)
The OECS E-Government for Regional Integration Program is helping harmonize regional e-government systems and applications across the region, resulting in time- and cost-savings for governments, businesses and the public.
The OECS Telecommunication Reform Project is financing the introduction of a competitive telecommunications sector and increasing the supply of informatics-related skills in Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent, and the Grenadines.
Digicel- Caribbean: With support from IFC, Digicel has become the largest mobile telecommunications operator in the Caribbean, with over 7 million subscribers in 24 markets. Digicel has provided cell phone service in areas that had never before been connected and even covers up to 20 miles out to sea, allowing fishermen to sell their catch before returning to port.
Trinidad and Tobago
The HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Project ($20 million) seeks to curb the spread of new HIV infections and provide treatment and care for those living with HIV/AIDS or who are affected by the disease.
Along with the examples above, the Bank conducts periodic customized reports. Some recent examples include:
A Time to Choose: Caribbean Development in the 21 st Century
Caribbean: Accelerating Trade Integration – Policy Options for Sustained Growth, Job Creation, and Poverty Reduction
Crime, Violence and Development: Trends, Costs, and Policy Options in the Caribbean
The Nurse Labor and Education Markets in the English-Speaking CARICOM: Issues and Options for Reform
HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean: Issues and Options
Caribbean Youth Development: Issues and Policy Directions
OECS: Towards a New Growth Agenda