ROSEAU, Dominica, March 15, 2013 - Inclusive growth that generates jobs and opportunities for all citizens in the Commonwealth of Dominica was at the center of a high-level national conference hosted today by the country at the Fort Young Hotel in Roseau. 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 70 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 Dominica.
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, and explore geothermal energy to reduce oil dependency.
The Hon. Ambrose V. George, Minister for Information, Telecommunications and Constituency Empowerment explained: "Economic growth for a country requires a partnership. It necessitates that the private sector and civil society make their contributions. Importantly, it requires us to have a common purpose, so that, notwithstanding individual goals, we will be all working in pursuit of one national agenda for sustainable economic growth. I want to take the opportunity therefore, to encourage the private sector and civil society to take up the challenge for growth."
He also expressed that it is his hope that the CGF event will prove to be a stepping stone in enhancing the partnership among the various parties. "It is an opportunity to once again explore options for strengthening the investment climate, improving competitiveness and generating higher-paying jobs," Minister George further pointed out.
The one-day CGF event included remarks by Minister George; Sir Dwight Venner, Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank; Andrea Gallina, Coordinator of the CGF, World Bank; and Sylvia Dohnert, Executive Director of Compete Caribbean, who delivered a joint statement on behalf of the CGF partners and counted with participation of University of West Indies and the International Monetary Fund.
"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 generate consensus on a set of actions that will lead to a competitive private sector driving growth throughout the region,” said Mrs. Dohnert.
Meanwhile, Mr. Gallina also noted: “The CGF 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 create the necessary coalition for change.”
Carl Howell, Acting Chief Economist at the CDB, argued that the CGF can foster the development of a robust policy environment which, in itself, can lead to stronger development outcomes for Caribbean people. He further opined that research shows that countries with stronger policies are able to sustain growth and improve economic resilience. This, in his view, must be one of the goals of the Caribbean region.
Participants also heard a detailed presentation from Senior Infrastructure Economist Migara Jayawardena on the buzz word in Dominica today - Geo-thermal. He presented a strong case for the consideration of geo-thermal as a viable economic growth opportunity for Dominica to support regional integration by becoming an energy hub in the region.
The CGF event in Dominica follows the launch of a local chapter in the Dominican Republic, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia and St. Kitts & Nevis over the past four months. Haiti and Jamaica will organize similar events in April, while Suriname, Belize and Bahamas are planning to hold national events later this year. So far more than 2,000 people have attended the CGF dialogues and over 100 meetings were organized by the various working groups in the region.
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.