By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia -- At the just concluded 39th governors’ meeting of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, last Thursday, Suriname called for expansion of ties with the bank and to position itself as the “bridge” between the IsDB, South America and the Caribbean after decades of isolation, in the words of Gillmore Hoefdraad, Governor of Suriname to the Islamic Bank.
Hoefdraad, who is also the governor of the National Bank of Suriname, said, “As the only member country of the Islamic Development Bank in the Western Hemisphere, we see ourselves as a natural bridge between the new world and our fellow members in the other continents. Therefore, I want to mention that Suriname would like to support the efforts of the Islamic Development Bank to engage with countries in South America and the Caribbean.”
The Surinamese governor gave an overview of his country’s economy. He told the gathering that Suriname is rich in natural resources and is safe for investments. He pointed out also that Suriname continues to diversity its economy and is working to strengthen “institutional framework” and improve transparency of government operations.”
“We are also strengthening our institutional framework, with the view to broadening our revenue base and improving public finance management and reporting. In the past, insufficient public financial management and inadequate checks and balances squandered increased mining revenues during boom periods in Suriname.
“Transparency of government operations is a high priority for our government, and we are working with regional and international partners to strengthen statistical data and information systems in national accounts, public finance, balance of payments, and monetary statistics,” he said.
Hoefdraad congratulated the IsDB on its 40th anniversary. He applauded the bank for its many achievements and successes in the past 40 years and said that Suriname has been a proud member of the Islamic Bank since 1997. Suriname is the only country in the Americas that is a member of the Islamic Bank.
According to Hoefdraad, Suriname received US$102.8 million in financing for 12 operations since 1997. Recently, Suriname and the IsDB agreed on a new interim member country partnership strategy which translated into Suriname recently receiving additional loans totaling US$75.8 million for two projects in the health and education section.
Suriname will now work on a wider partnership with bank.
“We look forward to the success of the newly established projects and the definition and application of a wider member country partnership strategy,” said Hoefdraad.
Hoefdraad has been the most active representative of Suriname at the Islamic Bank since its membership began in 1997.
The Islamic Bank has received the highest ratings from the three major credit rating agencies over consecutive years.