Press Release:-The Finance team representing Saint Lucia at the 2016 Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund (IMF) last week is pleased with discussions held with officials there from October 7-9.
Prime Minister Honourable Allen M. Chastanet, Minister in the Ministry of Finance Honourable Dr. Ubaldus Raymond, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Cointha Thomas and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Economic Development & Housing Tracy Polius got the opportunity to discuss the vulnerability of small states like Saint Lucia to outside forces as well as lay out financial plans for the island moving forward.
The team was part of Group meetings as well as bilateral sessions with the World Bank and IMF.
Key sessions attended included the Caribbean Constituency Caucus Meeting, the B20 Ministers Meeting, a meeting with Kyle Peters, the World Bank’s Vice President for Operations Policy and Country Services and a meeting of Caribbean leaders with Managing Director of the IMF, Christine Lagarde where Saint Lucia’s Prime Minister delivered a presentation on Achieving Growth and Debt Sustainability in the context of Global Uncertainty. The issue of Challenges in the Financial Sector, Corresponding Banking and effect of de-risking on the Caribbean also formed a significant part of the discussions at the sessions.
“These meetings were an opportunity for us as a new government to be able to share with officials of the World Bank and IMF, our vision and strategy,” said Prime Minister Chastanet. “We were all extremely encouraged by the reception we got from the different entities about what we are trying to accomplish here in Saint Lucia. We, like many of the other Caribbean islands, are at a crossroads. Things are very difficult and I think that everyone recognizes it cannot be business as usual. I was very encouraged by the feedback on our ideas from both the World Bank and IMF.”
While at the World Bank the team also met with CDB president Dr. William Warren Smith and representatives of the Central Bank.
The discussions touched on the issue of Climate Change ahead of the 22nd session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), Conference of the Parties (COP 22), which is scheduled to take place from 7-18 November 2016.
“We had good meetings with the CDB and the World Bank, as well as the Central Bank, on a potential strategy,” explained Prime Minister Chastanet. “Every solution so far has been on creating new funds. What we are saying is let us have a solution right now that deals with existing funds. When it comes to the Caribbean islands a lot of us have graduated to middle income countries and as a result of that the concessionary funding that we used to get is no longer available. If there is not an overall plan to improve the infrastructure it means we are continuously vulnerable. So we find ourselves borrowing money to fix infrastructure at commercial rates which is helping to contribute the overall debt situation. We are also most affected by Global Warming, something we have very little part in creating, yet we are sitting here as lame ducks, and nothing is being done to compensate and to help us build sustainable infrastructure.”
While in Washington DC Prime Minister Chastanet also attended a Caribbean-Central American Action forum titled “Finance, Fintech, and the Future of Banking in the Caribbean Basin” where he delivered an address. The team also met with Saint Lucians living Washington DC for a town hall forum.