Jamaica to Host IMF’s High Level Caribbean Forum

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KINGSTON, Jamaica, Oct 3, CMC – Jamaica is to host the High Level Caribbean Forum that, will focus on the unique issues the Caribbean region is facing and the opportunities that can be found within to cope with the changing global landscape.

The Forum is being organised by the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF), in partnership with the Jamaica government and will be held under the theme “Unleashing Growth and Strengthening Resilience in the Caribbean”.

The November 16th event will be attended by several Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders as well as former prime ministers, the IMF managing director Christine Lagarde among other high level regional and international delegates.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Lagarde will address the opening ceremony following which there will be a series of panel discussions examining ways of boosting socio-economic performances in the Caribbean.

One of the panel discussions will focus on crime and youth unemployment with the IMF noting that growth in the Caribbean has remained weak in the last three decades.

It said that one of the most significant growth bottlenecks is the high crime, which, together with high unionization and a rigid labour market have fostered a vicious cycle whereupon young people struggling with the lack of opportunities due to low growth turn to illegal activities and crime, which in turn further depress growth.

“The panel will explore the links between growth and crime, cases where structural reforms (business climate, lean public sector, resolve crime, labour market reforms, education, economic diversification) and strong macroeconomic policies have borne fruit, and multi-pronged policies to break the cycle between lack of opportunities, crime, and low growth,” according to the IMF.

Financial stability and growth in the Caribbean will also come under scrutiny with the organisers noting that financial sectors in the Caribbean have historically either taken on too much or too little risk, with the inherent implications for growth and stability.

“In countries with high public debt, banks have grown dependent on government paper and crowded out private sector credit. In other countries, banks have instead engaged in excessively risky lending, as illustrated by some countries’ struggle with NPLs.

“How should Caribbean financial systems strike a balance between supporting private sector credit and supporting growth, while maintaining financial stability? What are the adequate levels of regulation, supervision, and legal systems which support financial inclusion and deepening without jeopardizing stability?’

They said that the panel, which includes the Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), Timothy Antoine and his colleague from the Bahamas, John Rolle, will examine policies to address constraints on financial inclusion and deepening, tradeoffs between growth and stability, and strategies for strengthening regulatory, supervisory, and legal systems to best support financial deepening and inclusion.

Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell, his Trinidad and Tobago counterpart, Dr. Keith Rowley as well as the St. Lucia Prime Minister Allan Chastanet and Prime Minister Holness will discuss the findings of the Forum and including how key takeaways can be implemented by policymakers in the region. – CMC

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