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CARICOM to get debt advocacy team
Published on July 7, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

ST JOHN’S, Antigua -- A Caribbean Community (CARICOM) debt advocacy team is to be appointed to campaign for debt relief and/or debt amelioration on behalf of highly indebted CARICOM member states.

This was one of the key outcomes of the 35th conference of the CARICOM heads of government that concluded in Antigua and Barbuda on Friday, the 41st anniversary of the Community.

At a press conference on Friday afternoon, chair of the Conference of Heads of Government, Gaston Browne, prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, said that the team will advocate with development partners on behalf of member states. The initiative emerged out of the recognition that the current burdensome debt was not realistic for some member states, given their structural and other economic vulnerabilities, Browne said.

Debt advocacy is one of the areas that the Commission on the Economy zeroed in on as part of the measures to be taken to respond to the economic challenges with which the region is faced. A regional debt management mechanism is to be designed and a regional fiscal sustainability framework is to be formulated within six months, the newly elected prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda told the media.

Another strategy proposed by the Commission on the Economy that the heads of government have sanctioned is resource mobilization, particularly from non-traditional sources of financing. They have also agreed to pursue the promotion of public private partnerships for the development of the economic infrastructure with technical advice from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the World Bank.

In their continued focus on revitalizing the regional economy, the heads of government met last Wednesday with leading figures of the private sector. The frank engagement, the Community chairman said, was a tangible demonstration of the region’s commitment to engage a critical stakeholder in the context of the strategic priorities for the Community, as set out in the five-year strategic plan which heads approved during the conference.

There was agreement that the discussions were a good start to a new relationship between heads of government and the business community. Ease of doing business in the region was a major talking point and suggestions were offered in respect of improving that area.

At the closing press conference, Browne also announced Montserrat’s intention to accede to the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas by the next meeting of the Conference. That accession will pave the way for that member state’s full participation in the Community, particularly in the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
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