ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, December 11, 2012—Inclusive growth that generates jobs and opportunities for all citizens in Grenada was at the center of a high-level national conference hosted today by the Ministry of Finance at the Grenada Trade Centre. The conference is part of the Caribbean Growth Forum (CGF), a two-year regional platform for dialogue to foster higher levels of economic growth with opportunities for all in the Caribbean.
The CGF is a partnership between the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and Compete Caribbean, with support from the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). The CGF builds on existing partnerships and involves stakeholders from the public and private sectors, academia and civil society, as well as the Caribbean Diaspora.
Over 150 participants from the public and private sectors, youth, academia, media and civil society joined the St. George’s conference to talk about the key factors that have the greatest potential to increase growth in Grenada.
Participants discussed ways to strengthen the investment climate, upgrade education and develop skills that improve competitiveness and generate higher-paying jobs. They also addressed key actions needed to improve logistics and connectivity --especially by making key infrastructure services more affordable and efficient-- including information technology, transportation and electricity.
“We had a productive dialogue today on how to capitalize on Grenada’s natural and geographical advantages to expand the economy and create productive employment opportunities for all. Infrastructure improvements, along with a skilled and educated workforce, are clearly among the key factors to attract private investors and create a more favorable business climate,” said Nazim Burke, Minister of Finance of Grenada.
Like other small island states, Grenada is challenged by frequent natural disasters, its small size and the associated lack of economies of scale, and its vulnerability to external shocks.
In 2004, Hurricane Ivan led to estimated losses of twice the amount of Grenada’s GDP. Grenada was again severely hit by the Great Recession, and steady growth has not yet resumed. The challenge for the country will be to further harness the potential of its tourism assets while moving to a more diversified economy.
The one-day CGF event included remarks by Finance Minister Nazim Burke; Alessandro Legrottaglie, Senior Country Officer, OECS and Barbados, World Bank; Wayne Mitchell, Resident Representative of the International Monetary Fund to the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union; Carl Howell, Chief Economist of the Caribbean Development Bank; and Najy Benhassine, Senior Sector Manager, Investment Climate Department, World Bank.
“Challenges are indeed great for the Caribbean, but so are opportunities. Here and there you find skepticism, but I think there is a collective sense that something different can happen. The potential is significant. The Caribbean Growth Forum encourages an action-oriented dialogue that looks ahead. Involving all segments of society is key to finding shared solutions for a new and modern economy and sustainable growth,” said Andrea Gallina, Caribbean Growth Forum Coordinator for the World Bank.
"The Caribbean Growth Forum represents an important opportunity for the Caribbean to take a critical look at some binding constraints to growth and how alternative development paths can be shaped in order to strengthen economic resilience," said Carl Howell, Chief Economist of the Caribbean Development Bank.
The CGF event in St. George’s follows the launch of a local chapter in the Dominican Republic and Antigua and Barbuda earlier last month. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica and Saint Lucia will organize similar events in January next year, while Trinidad and Tobago, Belize, and Jamaica are planning to hold national events early next year.
The first phase of the initiative will be completed by June 2013 with the production of an action plan by each of the 15 Caribbean countries participating in the Forum. The action plans will include concrete policy recommendations that would then be implemented by each country. Interested citizens will have a continuous opportunity to learn more about and engage in the CGF via the social media channels.