Roseau, Dominica– March 16, 2010………. Chairman of the 15-nation Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Dominica’s Prime Minister, Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit has described as “constructive” a discussion between CARICOM Heads of Government and the President of the World Bank, Hon. Robert Zoellick on a wide range of issues at the just concluded 21st Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community in Roseau, Dominica.
Speaking to reporters at a news conference in Roseau, Prime Minister Skerrit stated that “Dominica supports full- heartedly the capital increase for the World Bank because we believe that if it happens then the World Bank will be in a better position to respond to some of the challenges which are confronting us”.
On the work of the World Bank in Haiti, CARICOM Chairman, Prime Minister Skerrit said.
“We also thank the World Bank for its pivotal role in Haiti, before the earthquake, during the recovery effort and certainly as we move along towards the reconstruction of Haiti.”
According to the Dominican leader other issues such as Climate Change Tax Havens and Debt were also discussed with the World Bank President.
“After these discussions we believe we have a better appreciation of how we can work together with the World Bank towards achieving greater benefits for us in the Caribbean Community,” Prime Minister Skerrit concluded.
In his remarks to the media, the World Bank President, in his first visit to Dominica since his appointment in 2007, described the Caribbean Community as “special development partner” and stated that the World Bank recognised the special developmental challenges of Small Island States and praised the extraordinary leadership in the CARICOM region.
Mr. Zoellick, who met the Haitian President, Mr. René Préval in Washington last week, expressed his support for the appointment by CARICOM of the former Jamaican Prime Minister, Mr. P. J Patterson to the position of Special Envoy to Haiti. Part of the discussion with the CARICOM Heads on Haiti centred around how the World Bank can connect with CARICOM’s reconstruction and development efforts in Haiti and specifically with the development of the construction industry in that country.
With respect to Haiti’s reconstruction efforts, the World Bank President spoke of the World Bank’s pledge of an additional US$100 million of crisis funding (grant funds) for Haiti as well as an additional US$35 million from the private sector arm of the Bank (IFC) soon after the earthquake and the Bank’s efforts to establish a multi-donor trust fund for Haiti working with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and United Nations agencies.
The World Bank is co-hosting a conference at the technical level in the Dominican Republic on Haiti on March 17 and 18th and is also involved in the UN Conference on Haiti scheduled for March 31st 2010 in New York.
On the important issue of the high debt of many CARICOM countries, the World Bank President made a commitment to send teams to the nations interested, to discuss their debt profile as well as growth and good fiscal management issues.
On the matter of tax havens, an important issue for Caribbean countries, Mr. Zoellick spoke of the efforts of the World Bank to assist Caribbean countries in developing their capacity to deal with issues such as tax information exchange agreements and implementation.
With respect to the issue of climate change, Mr Zoellick pledged the World Bank’s continued support in that area.
“We have projects already going forward in climate change. But we think some of the pledges of additional financial support in the international community, if we can show how some of the climate investment funds that we have can be used effectively, it can build greater momentum to support the CARICOM countries, and focus on some of the issues that are particularly heightened for them, many of them being the resilience or adaptation agenda…”
Mr. Zoellick also briefed the CARICOM Heads on the state the world economy and the Bank’s prognosis for 2010. He lamented the impact of the global financial crisis on the Caribbean region through drops in tourism and exports and lower remittances and lower investment.
While acknowledging the world economy is recovering, the World Bank President warned that unemployment could remain relatively high and expressed concern as to what may happen when the effects of the stimulus programmes by developed countries begin to phase down in the first half of 2010 and whether the private sector would resume.
Mr Zoellick pointed to opportunities for Caribbean countries as the world economy continues to recover from the global economic and financial crisis.
The 21st Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM ended in Roseau on Friday afternoon with a press conference.