Regional finance ministers to discuss impact of COVID-19 on Caribbean countries

June 15, 2021

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – The Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) says it will host a high-level panel of government and business leaders to explore the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the region.

The CDB said that the event forms part of its 51st annual meeting and will take place on Thursday.

It said that the two hour virtual discussion  will also examine policy imperatives for recovering from the impacts and the keys to building a Caribbean region that is far more resilient to external shocks.

It will be held under the theme “Reimagining Caribbean Economies in the Wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic”.

The participants will include Grenada’s Minister of Finance, Economic Development, Physical Development and Energy, Gregory Bowen, his Barbados counterpart Marsha Caddle, as well as Dr Nigel Clarke, the Jamaica Minister of Finance and the Public Service and James Thompson, Minister of State for Finance, Bahamas.

The other panellist include Timothy Antoine, Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), Don Wehby, the chief executive officer of the Jamaica-based GraceKennedy Group, as well as Ali Mansoor, chairman, Board of Directors at Regional Multi-disciplinary Centre of Excellence, USA; and the CDB’s director of Economics, Ian Durant.

The CDB said that the panellists will discuss the policy imperatives for a green recovery post-pandemic, debt sustainability challenges that have emerged and how to build economic resilience given the vulnerabilities exposed by the pandemic.

“The impacts of the pandemic have exposed some structural weaknesses in CDB’s Borrowing Member Countries (BMCs) that need to be addressed if the region is to emerge successfully from the crisis.

“These structural weaknesses have led to high export concentration, which is reflected in the high share of revenue from tourism or minerals in total exports. This exposed the foreign reserve positions of BMCs to the effects of the pandemic on these industries, and the negative effects were transmitted to labour markets, fiscal performance, and the social sector. The impacts have emphasised the need for diversifying the export mix of Caribbean countries,” the CDB added.

The webinar will also  look at the global context and critical trends and the panel will  also examine how BMCs must reposition their economies in response to the context to achieve higher and sustained levels of inclusive growth while limiting the extent of the impact of external shocks on their economies in the future.

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