The Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has revealed that a growing backlog of undisbursed funds to member countries is a worrisome state of affairs for the institution.
President of the CDB Dr Warren Smith also said this week that project implementation is a grave concern.
“The growing “buckets” of undisbursed balances on our books keep me awake at nights. It is cold comfort that other development partners are facing a similar challenge. Bear in mind that none of us is delivering on our development mandate if the funds intended for these countries remain in our coffers,” the bank chief said to a Regional Forum on Transformation at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre (LESC).
He argued that his institution’s goal should be for the intended beneficiaries to be able to access this money for high priority development projects as quickly as possible.
“At CDB, we are attacking the implementation challenge from several fronts. Internally, we are spearheading a major overhaul of our systems and processes. This transformation is underpinned by an aggressive information technology strategy to get closer to our clients, improve responsiveness, and generate greater efficiencies,” he announced.
Dr Smith said the CDB had also adopted a new procurement framework which should increase operational flexibility and accelerate project implementation.
He said that at the country level, training is a major vehicle for addressing the implementation issue.
According to him, the institution was currently completing a region-wide programme in Public Policy Analysis and Project Cycle Management training, targeted at enhancing skills in implementation and other areas of project management.
“Over 2,000 public officials have been trained over the past three years. We will be launching e-modules to extend access to this training to an even larger number of public servants. Training is also being provided through the CDB/World Bank-financed Caribbean Procurement Training and Consultancy Centre, the first permanent centre for procurement excellence in the Caribbean,” he told the forum that included prime Ministers, Ministers of finance and top officials from international lending agencies.
“In addition to training, we are encouraging behaviour change through, for example, institutionalised delivery mechanisms or through project-by-project capacity and institutional building support. We have also been working with other development partners to develop joint approaches to our common programmes,” he stated.
The CDB chief recalled that on the margins of recent World Bank/IMF annual meetings, he signed a new Procurement Procedural Framework with the European Investment Bank to harmonise the CDB’s procedures for a range of climate-focused investments in the Caribbean.
Dr Smith said that his bank was also in discussion with other development partners to similarly harmonise procurement and other procedures for enhanced implementation efficiency.
He also revealed that several member-states are reporting implementation rates below 35 per cent and as low as 20 per cent in one case.
Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Tao Zhang pledged its continued support for all Caribbean countries in their efforts to achieve sustainable development.