As Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states continue to face several challenges and limitations, officials of the CARICOM Development Fund (CDF) are promising to do a lot more to assist.
In fact, officials say efforts are already underway to help disadvantage countries grow and develop their economies while forming closer ties with more advanced economies in the region.
The pledge was made earlier this week as CDF officials addressed the organisation’s Eight Meeting of Contributors and Development Partners at the Accra Beach Resort and Spa.
“The CDF was very encouraged by the enthusiastic response of many of our regional partners in particular to the call to join with us in tackling the constraints we all face in designing and implementing effective solutions to the development challenges confronting CARICOM member states in sectors and thematic areas of mutual interest,” Chief Executive Officer of the CDF Rodinald Soomer said.
“I am pleased to report that we have acted decisively on many of these expressions of interest and have so far concluded memorandum of understanding with two agriculture sector specialist agencies – CARDI (Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute) and IICA (Inter-American Institute for Corporation on Agriculture) – one of which has been executed, while significant progress has been made in agreeing similar arrangements with the UWI and the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization),” he explained.
Soomer said the CDF was keen on continuing to forge new partnerships to help the region realise a number of its developmental goals in a variety of areas including agriculture and renewable energy.
At the same time, CDF Interim Chairman Richard Brown said as the region continues to battle a number of structural, external and natural challenges, there was greater need for adaptation and mitigation.
Acknowledging that CARICOM member states were faced with financial and other resource constraints, Brown said the CDF would do more in helping to identify and respond to some of the challenges hindering the region’s growth and development.
“As a consequence, we will increasingly have to explore ways of engaging our international development partners in order to jointly offer financial and technical assistance as well as collaborative solutions and response to the challenges facing our member countries,” said Brown.
“There is also need for greater functional cooperation, production integration as well as production integration as well as greater coordination of our efforts in penetrating global value chains and engaging in international trade,” he insisted.
He announced that the CDF would be implementing an updated Regional Cohesion Policy, which was designed to support regional integration and development.
“The implementation of this policy will be instrumental to the improved targeted and enhanced effectiveness of the interventions of the CDF in the various disadvantaged countries’ regions and sectors throughout the CSME and lay the foundation for more cohesive growth and development within the region,” said Brown.
He said all member states have completed their consultation on the draft policy and it was now up to the CARICOM Secretariat to approve it.
Brown urged member countries to strive for greater social, economic, technological and environmental resilience, along with more effective governance, stronger focus on food security and ensuring that they were in a position to rebuild after a natural disaster.
Meanwhile, immediate past Chairman of the CDF Sherwyn Williams said he wanted to see the regional economies focusing more on developing their renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors.
He said it was for that reason that the CDF had introduced the Credit Risk Abatement Facility (CRAF) to encourage a greater level of lending from commercial and development banks for viable energy projects to small and medium sized enterprises.
“The CRAF is the CDF’s response to a major financing gap for a significant bloc of our beneficiaries and should result in significant benefits to member states,” said Williams.
“Another area of underexploited opportunity is the blue economy,” he said, adding that “It is the CDF’s hope that Suriname, Barbados and Jamaica will seek access from the fund within the cohesion framework”. [email protected]