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IDB President will travel to Caribbean member countries

Luis Alberto Moreno will visit Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago and Suriname

Inter-American Development Bank President, Luis Alberto Moreno, will visit three Caribbean IDB member countries next week to help strengthen the IDB’s contribution to the development effort throughout the region.

The Bank has a portfolio of over US$1.3 billion in the Caribbean and is the leading source of multilateral finance for the region. The IDB is committed to increasing its support of small and vulnerable countries. Moreno will be in Barbados on February 7 and then he will travel to Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname to visit the new heads of state in those countries.

“The IDB is strongly committed to help governments promote competitiveness and a sustainable economic growth,” said Moreno. “Sustainable energy, climate change prevention and mitigation, and better productivity are key areas to improve the quality of life in this region.”

During his trip to the three countries, Moreno will hold conversations with high-ranking officials to discuss ways to improve the Bank’s partnership with governments and their countries. Moreno is also to meet with Caribbean Development Bank President Compton Bourne and CDB senior management, private sector and civil society representatives, academics and opinion leaders. Moreno will also visit IDB projects in execution in these countries.

Barbados. The current IDB Country Strategy with Barbados focuses on sustainable energy, coastal management and climate change adaptation, water and sanitation, and education. Lending approved for the country in the period 2009-2010 reached US$165 million and was accompanied by almost US$5 million in grants and technical assistance.

Trinidad and Tobago. Since June 2010, the Bank has been engaged in a dialogue with the Government on critical development challenges facing Trinidad and Tobago. So far, the Bank has provided support through a programmatic policy based loan of $100 million to strengthen the country’s capital expenditure management, which was identified, processed, approved and disbursed in a period of four months. The dialogue is to prepare a new IDB Country Strategy with Trinidad and Tobago, which is expected to focus on improving efficiency, effectiveness, and sustainability of public expenditure, and strengthen regulatory capacities of the public sector; upgrade basic infrastructure; promote greater dynamism in the private sector; and improve the country’s resilience to natural disasters and the effects of climate change. President Moreno will not only visit the main island of Trinidad, but will also meet with officials in the sister island of Tobago.

Suriname. In recent weeks since the start of 2011, the IDB has been engaged in a constructive and strategic dialogue with the Government of Suriname regarding the country’s development priorities. The shared vision that will emerge from the dialogue will set the foundation for a new IDB Country Strategy in which the Government and the Bank will agree on the role the IDB will play in supporting the country’s development agenda over 2011-2015 period. It is expected that the 2011-2015 Country Strategy will focus on supporting the government’s ambitious plans to modernize governance, improve equity, and boost economic growth.

The IDB in the Caribbean

In the context of the international financial crisis, a priority agreed with several countries in the region is to overcome the challenges of macroeconomic imbalances and institutional capacity constraints to be able to modernize public policy and improve efficiency.

Sustainable energy to reduce costly reliance on fossil fuels in many Caribbean countries and climate change preparedness and adaptation to protect coastal resources and ecosystems, are key sectors being aggressively approached.An example is a pilot program under the Global Climate Investment Fund aimed at scaling up investment in low carbon and climate resilient measures. There is an ongoing partnership with the CDB on the implementation of this program, led by the IDB and the World Bank. The Caribbean program will be carried out at the national level within Haiti, Jamaica, four OECS countries and at the regional level by specialized CARICOM institutions.

Building a competitive private sector is an important factor to improve regional participation in the global economy.The IDB is managing Compete Caribbean, a program to support private sector development and competitiveness in 15 Caribbean countries. The program is a joint initiative of the IDB, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), and the United Kingdom’s Department of International Development (DFID). It will provide technical assistance and investment funding to a variety of activities aimed at establishing productive development policies, implementing business climate reforms, launching clustering initiatives, and promoting small and medium-sized enterprises.

The IDB has also been fostering the regional integration process and CARICOM, as well as strengthening disaster preparedness, risk management and environmental protection on a regional basis. Social policy and programs in health, education and housing help promote productivity and a better life for people in the Caribbean. Several citizen security initiatives tackle the problems of crime and violence in the region, particularly in the prevention and control of violence and the reintegration of marginalized communities into the formal mainstream of society. A regional consultation is being conducted on the Bank’s social equity policy in the Caribbean.

The IDB Caribbean member countries include English-speaking The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago, as well as Dutch-speaking Suriname, French-speaking Haiti and Spanish-speaking Dominican Republic. In 2009-2010 the IDB approved more than US$1.5 billion financing for countries in the region and also earmarked US$200 million in annual grants for Haiti, besides the cancellation of this country’s debt with the Bank.

The IDB has also joined forces with the Caribbean Development Bank to reach countries in the Eastern Caribbean that are not IDB members so as to increase their access to development financing and technical assistance.

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