GEORGETOWN, Guyana, May 31, CMC – Experts at a roundtable forum on Caribbean development here on Wednesday, organised by the United Nations economic agency for the region, called on governments to make a fiscal pact to addressing the costs and benefits of fiscal consolidation.
“There was strong emphasis on the region developing social policies which are designed to embrace all of the poor, while at the same time finding creative ways to raise resources for social protection,” said the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), which convened the second Caribbean Development Roundtable.
“This includes creating more robust and dynamic buffers to cushion economic shocks,” it added.
Policy-makers, business leaders and academics discussed the challenges facing the region, the trade-offs that may be necessary in order to advance medium-term growth and development, and new approaches to meeting these challenges, ECLAC said.
The UN agency said the forum’s key conclusions and recommendations were to be presented on Thursday to the Caribbean Development and Cooperation Committee (CDCC), a permanent body in the regional economic commission that promotes development cooperation among Caribbean countries.
The roundtable was led by three panels on small states in the global economy after the crisis –towards a new development path; diversifying productive structures and improving access to financing in the Caribbean subregion; and maintaining social protection in small states in the context of declining public resources and access to finance.
“We must find a way to integrate the logic of politics with the logic of economics as a way of achieving sustainable development,” said Trinidad and Tobago’s Finance Minister Winston Dookeran in a speech to the forum.
His Guyanese counterpart, Ashni Singh, reminded participants that intellectual effort has to be devoted to make this case, to move beyond an emotional argument.
“The world will not be convinced by an emotional argument,” he said. “There has to be a more credible, robust rigorously articulated case for special treatment of the countries in our region.”
ECLAC said it was emphasised that governments build relationships for social dialogue in order to reduce tensions in the labour market.
“Caribbean countries must focus on social risk management and social protection in order to improve labour productivity and reduce social exclusion,” it said.
On the issue of children, “it was felt that the region has done well with respect to child protection but not participation and provision rights,” ECLAC said.
“Deep consideration was given to the importance of child-sensitive child protection policies,” it added.
ECLAC Director Diane Quarless said macroeconomic policy for structural transformation and social protection in small states are “crucial to our understanding of how to build resilience in small economies and achieve sustainable development.”
She reaffirmed ECLAC’s commitment to working closely with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and other institutions in the Caribbean to address the challenges facing the region.
“We are heavily invested in the future of the roundtable, and we hope to see it become a dynamic forum that will nurture policy dialogue among the senior decision-makers of the Caribbean sub-region, dialogue from which should emerge valuable insight and understanding in the search for solutions to the range of development challenges that we face,” Quarless said.
“We propose a strategy for economic growth that prioritise structural change, based on investment, integration and innovation, as well as strengthening public action for redistributing resources and promoting equality,” said ECLAC’s executive secretary, Alicia Bárcena, in a video message sent to participants.