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Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: Growth, Jobs, Opportunities for All Top Agenda at High-Level Conference

January 17, 2013

Investment climate, infrastructure, skills key for private sector-led growth

KINGSTOWN, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, January 17, 2013
—Inclusive growth that generates jobs and opportunities for all citizens in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines was at the center of a high-level national conference hosted today by the country at the Methodist Church Hall. 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 120 participants from the public and private sectors, youth, academia, media and civil society joined the Kingstown conference to talk about the key factors that have the greatest potential to increase growth in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

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.

Technical and political economy discussions are important in the process of job creation, poverty reduction, and greater equality. Culture is also an important dimension as it is grounded in the production of goods and services. It is not just about leisure, pleasure and a nice time, but there must be a balance between them, if we are to attain high levels of growth and improvement in the lives of Vincentians,” said Dr. the Hon. Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Like other small island states, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is challenged by frequent natural disasters, its small size and the associated lack of economies of scale, and its vulnerability to external shocks.

The one-day CGF event included remarks by Prime Minister Gonsalves; Sir Dwight Venner, Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank; Alessandro Legrottaglie, Senior Country Officer, OECS and Barbados, World Bank; Sylvia Dohnert, Executive Director of Compete Caribbean, Inter-American Development Bank; Carl Howell, Acting Chief Economist of the Caribbean Development Bank; Wayne Mitchell, Resident Representative of the International Monetary Fund to the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union; and Indera Sagewan-Alli, Executive Director of the Caribbean Centre for Competitiveness, University of West Indies.

The Caribbean Growth Forum is a series of multi-stakeholder national and regional consultations, which include national and regional authorities, private sector organizations, firms and civil society, and are intended to identify a set of concrete, implementable actions which will stimulate growth in each of the 15 participating countries. Compete Caribbean is confident that the CGF is an effective way to build consensus around an agenda that will support a competitive private sector that can drive growth throughout the region,” said Sylvia Dohnert, Executive Director of Compete Caribbean.

“Through the Caribbean Growth Forum we want to encourage a national, action-oriented dialogue involving all segments of society, including voices that are not typically heard, such as those of youth and small entrepreneurs. The goal is to share solutions for a modern economy and sustainable growth,”
said Andrea Gallina, Caribbean Growth Forum Coordinator for the World Bank.

The CGF event in Kingstown follows the launch of a local chapter in the Dominican Republic, Antigua and Barbuda, and Grenada last year. Dominica and Saint Lucia will organize similar events this month, while Trinidad and Tobago, Belize, and Jamaica are planning to hold national events later this 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.

For more information on the Caribbean Growth Forum, please visit: http://caribgrowth.competecaribbean.org/

Be updated via Twitter @caribgrowth, and follow #caribgrowth

Media Contacts
In Kingstown
Nerrissa Pitt
Tel : +1 (784) 457-2182
In Washington
Patricia da Camara
Tel : +1 (202) 473-4019