St. John’s, Antigua – Antigua and Barbuda’s Minister of Finance, the Economy and Public Administration, Hon. Harold Lovell, is pleased with the outcomes of the discussions and meetings that took place over the past week.
Minister Lovell and his delegation returned to Antigua over the weekend after attending the IMF/World Bank annual meetings in Istanbul, Turkey. The Caribbean delegations to the meetings spoke of the need for increased financial flows to the region to provide support during the global economic crisis; the debt overhang and its impact on reducing fiscal space in the countries; and funding to help Caribbean countries adapt and respond to climate change issues.
At the meetings, the President of the World Bank committed that institution to assist in developing targeted social safety nets and to help countries to identify ways to more efficiently use their resources. On the issue of debt, the Bank indicated a willingness to develop country-specific strategies to address the peculiar nature of the debt overhang in the Caribbean. World Bank President Robert Zoellick said the Bank would also assist in leveraging financing for the region to address climate change issues.
On the matter of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) advocacy, Mr. Zoellick advised the Caribbean to lobby friendly officials in OECD countries. Speaking on behalf of the region, Guyanese President Bharrat Jagdeo had sought the Bank’s support to advocate on financial services and other issues that form part of the OECD agenda. President Zoellick indicated that the Bank would be willing to partner with the countries in such an initiative and possibly accompany Caribbean missions to OECD capitals. Finally, President Zoellick indicated the Bank’s commitment to help strengthen regional institutions when opportunities for such interventions arise. Delegations from the region in turn assured Mr. Zoellick that the Caribbean Constituency would support initiatives to increase the Bank’s capital.
Minister Lovell looks forward to engaging in further dialogue with the IMF and the World Bank on the assistance that may be provided by these institutions to Antigua and Barbuda. An IMF delegation begins a weeklong visit to Antigua today to complete the Article IV consultations and to start discussions on how the Fund might assist the Government in implementing its Fiscal Consolidation Programme.