The STAR Businessweek
Unlocking finance for growth in the context of a less favourable global economy is key for Caribbean countries, many of which are facing gaps in financing, heavy debt burdens, and high vulnerability to economic shocks and natural disasters. In 2014, Saint Lucia’s then-Prime Minister Kenny Anthony hosted the third regional Caribbean Growth Forum to discuss new strategies and tools to achieve growth in the Caribbean. Few of these strategies have since materialized, but nevertheless, one key take-away from the discussions in Saint Lucia was that being small has a number of advantages. Go figure. For instance, small states can be more agile in ensuring high competitiveness. For example, a number of small states continue to rank at the top of the annual Global Competitiveness Index including Singapore, Mauritius and Malta. Given the large debt burdens faced by many Caribbean countries, financing growth calls for combining public and private finance.
To free up greater public financing for growth, continued efforts on fiscal consolidation and structural reforms are essential. But high debt burdens also stem from weak competitiveness, low productivity, low skill levels, high logistics costs and poor connectivity. In this context, Caribbean government must commit to a path of fiscal reform and private-sector led development. Workforce development is central.
Since 2014, however, the Caribbean’s financial ecosystem has been under siege by the constantly moving goalposts of global banking compliance requirements, most of which underpin the Caribbean’s banking relationships to the metropoles of the world. While combatting the financing of terrorism, illicit trade, and transnational crime are commendable pursuits, standing ‘hard against crime’ shouldn’t be used to justify the severing of key avenues for Caribbean growth and poor policy-making.
In this banking and finance themed edition of The STAR Businessweek, we’re getting under the hood of the Caribbean financial system, looking at where we are today, and what we’re doing to move forward.
It’s Nothing Personal. It’s Business.
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