Barbados has served notice that it may need to borrow from the CARICOM Development Fund (CDF).
That’s according to St Vincent and the Grenadines’ Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves who has urged Barbados and other CDF members to pay in their contributions, despite their domestic economic challenges, to keep the fund alive.
He was speaking during the CDF’s fourth contributors’ meeting at the Courtyard by Marriot today. Although unable to attend in person as scheduled, because of illness, Gonsalves spoke to the participants via telephone.
“In the first [contribution cycle of the CDF], Jamaica and Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago had indicated that they were not interested in borrowing, although I now understand that both Barbados and Jamaica are showing interest that in the second cycle [which begins in July next year], they want to have monies made available to them,” he said.
“I want to urge that our countries in CARICOM who are members of CDF, that we meet the target, plus [there will be] monies rolled over from the first cycle, and hopefully the international donors will contribute in the second round.”
The CDF was established to provide financial or technical assistance to disadvantaged countries, regions and sectors. All member states – Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago – are required to contribute to the fund on the basis of a formula agreed to by the CARICOM Heads of Government.
During her address to the conference, director of planning in the Ministry of Finance in St Vincent and the Grenadines, Laura Anthony-Browne, said the CDF remains relevant and member countries must play their part in ensuring that continues.
“Some persons may argue, and/or suggest, that in the current global environment, and perhaps considering donor fatigue, that the establishment of the CDF is simply an additional and perhaps unnecessary bureaucratic layer to an already overburdened system,” she said.
However, Anthony-Browne insisted, the CDF should be preserved since it is “a vital institution, necessary and relevant particularly to those countries which experience disparities or development challenges consequent upon the implementation of the CSME”.
“CDF is relevant too, for all of us small island developing states which continue to be adversely affected by the impact of climate change . . . . In order for CDF to remain relevant, it goes without saying that it has to maintain and escalate its levels of financial and technical assistance to its members. It can do so only if its development partners, and the member countries themselves, continue with their previous levels of support, and . . . exceed previous commitments.”
Around US$90 million is required for the next CDF cycle.