The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) is advising countries in the region to give a bigger role to the private sector to stimulate economic growth post-COVID-19.
CDB President Dr Warren Smith gave that indication was while addressing the 10th UK-Caribbean Ministerial Forum on March 18.
“Our bias should be towards a larger role for the private sector in stimulating economic growth, providing jobs, and earning foreign exchange through exports,” he said.
“In that regard, regional governments need to scale up efforts to create an ecosystem that responds especially to the needs of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) as these businesses account for over 70 per cent of all enterprises; 60 per cent to 70 per cent of gross domestic product; and 50 per cent of employment, including poor and marginalised groups,” Smith stated.
Key gov’t policies needed
The CDB boss further said government policy and regulatory frameworks must foster agility, innovation and value creation. He said these policies must also incentivise CARICOM businesses to improve their competitiveness in order to successfully penetrate regional and international markets.
Smith also said small economies with no reserve currencies need to export for their people to enjoy sustainable advances in their standards of living. He noted that there was an urgent need for economic diversification to reduce the region’s susceptibility to external shocks.
He explained that a diversified production structure will help small economies to build resilience by reducing susceptibility to price and output fluctuations and increasing competitiveness.
Another hurricane season upon us
In the meantime, the CDB said amid the focus on recovering from COVID-19, Caribbean countries should remember that the hurricane season is less than three months away.
Smith cautioned that natural disasters are not challenges that can be put on hold.
“From 2000 to 2019, the region experienced 190 natural disaster events, directly affecting 14.5 million persons. The Caribbean, therefore, will have to deal with the consequences of COVID-19 and the existential threat of climate change concurrently,” the CDB stated.
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