Government is in line for a US$40 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to help with its modernization of the public sector, which officials are hoping will lead to greater transparency.
Word of this from IDB Representative in Barbados Juan Carlos De La Hoz Viñas, who pointed out that the development bank was keen on providing support for countries to improve corporate governance and transparency.
He was addressing the opening of the ninth Annual IDB Group Caribbean Civil Society meeting, which was held at the Hilton Resort on Tuesday, under the theme Citizen Engagement for Transparency.
“It is worth noting here that the IDB is currently moving forward with plans to provide a US$40 million investment loan to the Government of Barbados for a public sector modernization programme,” announced De La Hoz Viñas.
He did not give a timeline for the approval and disbursement of the loan.
However, the IDB official pointed out that the loan would help to improve efficiency in the public sector under the modernization programme, which aims to improve the Government’s ability to enhance the competitiveness of its economy.
“There will be much focus on going digital with many public service transactions that can often frustrate end users. It will also bring the added benefit of a greater level of transparency to these transactions,” he said.
A major part of Government’s modernization programme includes the digitization of Government departments. It also includes the retooling, enfranchisement, retraining and empowerment of retrenched workers.
This modernization loan comes exactly one year after the IDB signed a historic Special Development Lending loan agreement with Government for a US$100 million to support the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) programme.
Stating that the IDB wanted a Caribbean where people were safe, productive and happy, De La Hoz Viñas said today’s forum on transparency was designed to “stimulate new perspectives, facilitate wider networks and deepen the engagement between the bank, civil society, policymakers and other key stakeholders”.
“The IDB has a goal of reducing poverty and inequality in the Caribbean and Latin America. So promoting transparency and anti-corruption play a major role in this effort,” he said.
Addressing the forum, Minister of Labour Collin Jordan highlighted the need for transparency in Government and greater input from civil society in the decision-making process.
As such, he said, Government was in process of developing non-Governmental organisation legislation that would help guide the development of civil society and encourage its input on matters of national importance.
Jordan reported that a Cabinet Paper was being developed in that regard, and he would be seeking the approval of parliamentarians so that work would continue on a policy that will frame that legislation which is intended to foster the development of third sector organisations.
“The paper is now awaiting the inclusion of some fiscal policy measures that are intended to be one of the drivers for civil society development,” he said.
He said the Mia Mottley-led administration recognized that civil society engagement was essential to a “vibrant, inclusive, equitable and sustainable society”, and it was for that reason that Government was fully engaging civil society in the decision-making process and monitoring of the BERT programme.
The Labour Minister said in light of the proliferation of misinformation, especially on social media, transparency was even more necessary.
“We have to find ways to manage the fake news . . . We must find ways of treating to the challenges without hindering progress to full transparency. All of us as leaders need to be held accountable and so transparency will assist ordinary citizens in holding us accountable for what we are supposed to be doing,” said Jordan.
Insisting that civil society had a significant role to play in the governance process, Jordan called on those representatives to not be afraid to “articulate their role” and hold Government leaders accountable.
Today’s deliberations had representatives and experts from Barbados, the Bahamas, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Guyana in attendance.