Investment climate, infrastructure, skills key for private sector-led growth
BASSETERRE, Saint Kitts, February 26, 2013—Inclusive growth that generates jobs and opportunities for all citizens in Saint Kitts and Nevis was at the center of a high-level national conference hosted today by the country at the Marriott hotel in Basseterre. 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.
About 100 participants from the public and private sectors, youth, academia, media and civil society joined the conference to talk about the key factors that have the greatest potential to increase growth in Saint Kitts and Nevis.
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.
“Uppermost in our deliberations as a Government is always our awareness of the relationship between a highly competitive investment climate and propensity for growth. It is in light of this that we have pursued, as non-negotiable priorities, certain economic goals, key among them, of course, being debt reduction. We took this approach as a means of encouraging and facilitating private sector growth, which is a priority,” said Dr. the Hon. Denzil Douglas, Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis.
Like other small island states, Saint Kitts and Nevis 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 Douglas; Sir Dwight Venner, Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank; and Francoise Clottes, Country Director for the Caribbean at the World Bank, who delivered a joint statement by CGF donor partners.
"Compete Caribbean, a private sector development program, sponsors the Caribbean Growth Forum because it believes that the inclusive platform and methodology being provided by the Forum will help to foment consensus on a set of actions that will lead to a competitive private sector driving growth throughout the region,” said Michael Hennessey, Compete Caribbean Operations Coordinator.
“The Caribbean Growth Forum brings a non-traditional approach to the greatest challenge currently faced by the region – creating sustainable growth. The CGF’s main goal is to facilitate change by building a national, action-oriented dialogue involving all segments of society, and making sure, over time, that results are delivered. This Forum will help take action on solutions for growth that will be prioritized with your help,” said Francoise Clottes, World Bank Director for the Caribbean.
The CGF event in Saint Kitts and Nevis follows the launch of a local chapter in the Dominican Republic, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Saint Lucia over the last three months. Dominica will organize a similar event in March, while Suriname, 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.