Published On: Thu, Apr 24th, 2014

ECLAC Puts forward Strategy for Achieving Development with Equality in the Caribbean

Executive Secretary, Alicia Bárcena, takes part in a round table discussion in Jamaica on the region’s progress. 

Alicia-Bárcena-CEPALKINGSTON - Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Alicia Bárcena, today put forward a strategy for achieving development with equality in the region, so as to also reduce the risks of economic turmoil or natural phenomena and increase its resilience in the face of such shocks.

Alicia Bárcena took part in the Third meeting of the Caribbean Development Round Table, which is being held on Wednesday and Thursday in Kingston, Jamaica, where she gave a presentation on “Strategies to Stimulate Growth and Build Resilience Among Caribbean SIDS” (Small Island Developing States).

According to the senior United Nations official, the region suffers from structural gaps reflected in financing restrictions, growing inequality and insufficient social protection, limited human capital and low levels of productivity and investment. Furthermore, unemployment remains high, while foreign debt on average is 60 % higher than Gross Domestic Product (in countries such as Jamaica, Grenada and Saint Kitts and Nevis, it is over 100 %).

In this context, the Caribbean faces two major challenges: stimulating growth and reducing the risks and uncertainties resulting from destructive natural phenomena, whose effects are aggravated by climate change, and the consequences of such disasters for tourism (which is a key sector in the region) – which in turn increase the volatility of income.

According to the Executive Secretary, there are also risks associated with increased economic openness, which exposes countries to external turmoil and a smaller fiscal space, thereby reducing their capacity to make economic adjustments.

Besides this, most of these countries are considered middle-income countries on the basis of their per capita income, and this is the main criterion used to allocate financial resources of official development aid. This has resulted in a gradual reduction of these flows towards the Caribbean.

ECLAC is therefore suggesting that the region’s countries develop industrial policies accompanied by fiscal and labour reform to promote equality and development, encourage partnerships between the public and private sectors and establish linkages with other international trade actors to diversify markets and reduce the impact of external shocks.

In addition, the Commission proposes redirecting services so that they target not only the domestic market but also the broader global market, while also strengthening economies of scale by working with other developing small island States and improving coordination between public institutions at the national and regional levels to avoid an overlap of efforts.

The meeting was also attended by the Director of the ECLAC Subregional headquarters for the Caribbean, Diane Quarless, the Ministry of Finance and Planning of Jamaica, Peter D. Phillips, and the Foreign Ministers of Jamaica, Arnold J. Nicholson; Guyana, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Camillo Gonsalves.

On Thursday in Kingston, Alicia Bárcena will attend the launch of the Commission’s third Handbook for Disaster Assessment, and on Friday will speak at the Twenty-fifth session of the Caribbean Development and Cooperation Committee (CDCC), which is a subsidiary body of ECLAC.

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