Technical assistance, the hands-on aid that donors and institutions contribute to Barbados, will get greater respect by the Mottley administration in its drive to reform the country’s management, Minister in the Ministry of Finance Ryan Straughn has signalled.
Insisting that technical assistance is needed for programmes to benefit citizens, Straughn said it was also necessary for CARICOM nations to deepen ties with development partners and its own institutions to ramp up more professional help.
He was addressing the opening of the Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Centre (CARTAC) mid-year Steering Committee meeting at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre on Thursday.
“As we embark on an accelerated approach to reforming a lot of the systems in Barbados we recognize that technical assistance is a key part of how the Government of Barbados and the rest of the Caribbean can emerge from a lot of the geopolitical issues that are significantly impacting the region,” Straughn said.
He complained that despite a lot of work with CARTAC over the years, Barbados was still lagging when it came to implementation work to fix the problems that required skilled help in the first place.
Stressing that the Mottley administration was dedicated to achieving necessary reforms Straughn said: “We have come to a different view with respect of how we are going to manage the affairs of Barbados”.
The finance minister explained that Government was keen on collaborating with technical institutions and development partners.
“We believe quite frankly, that we must tap all of the technical assistance that we can tap to be able to implement and do so in a coherent fashion across the region,” he said.
Though not listing the specific reform issues raised in the past, Straughn pointed to the one-year-old Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) programme, suggesting that it would address the problems identified by CARTAC over the years.
He said: “We took sight of all of those reports and we took fresh guard, and we have said to the International Monetary Fund, Inter-American Development Bank, Caribbean Development Bank and World Bank that we want to engage you actively with respect to how we can accelerate the reforms within Barbados.”
The economist added that the time was “right” for the acceleration of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), stating: “We must get our act together and implement where we need to and get help with that implementation.
“At the end of the day, there is still a very real capacity issue.
“We can solve some of those problems at a regional level by sharing resources.
“Notwithstanding the lack of momentum over the last few years, we believe that now is the time for us as a region to come together as big men and women and take charge of our destinies, working with our development partners in the pursuit of the best possible life for all of our people.
“We accept that we cannot do it alone.”
Chairman of the CARTAC Steering Committee Dr Gobind Ganga said with the financial gap now behind, the human and institutional capacity building organization was now better able to focus fully on implementation of a work plan on how to continue to respond to challenges in the medium-term in the areas of climate resilience building, supervising cyber-risk and banking relationships.
Ganga promised that CARTAC would be more efficient by implementing more cost-saving initiatives to “stretch available resources” in order to be more impactful.
And he warned countries in the region not to allow complacency to erode the gains achieved in the financial services industry over the years, which he said helped to reduce some of the “extreme financial sector vulnerabilities identified form the collapse of CLICO, even as a large unfinished agenda of reforms remain to be completed”.
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