Debt is a big word for the Caribbean. So is crisis. Sometimes the two words go together. An important meeting – the Caribbean’s first debt summit – will take place this week in Montego Bay. Please see the press release below:
Inaugural Caribbean Debt Summit set for Montego Bay October 1
Kingston, Jamaica, September 23, 2019. Some 50 delegates from the Caribbean and Latin America will converge at the Secrets Resorts, St James on October 1-4, for the Caribbean’s inaugural debt summit, and an annual event focused on the debt issues for countries from across the Americas.
The summit is being co-hosted by the Government of Jamaica, and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). It will focus specifically on macroeconomic, debt, and fiscal management issues most relevant to Caribbean countries, including debt issuance and management, as well as the financial implications of natural disasters and climate change. These and related topics are extremely relevant for the Caribbean region, with Jamaica serving as an important example of successful economic stabilization, institutional reform, and forward-looking financial management.
Therese Turner-Jones, IDB’s Country Representative for Jamaica and General Manager of the IDB’s Country Caribbean Group noted that public debt remains a critical issue with implications spanning every dimension of economic and public policy, with real and direct implications for Caribbean citizens—particularly the most vulnerable. “While so many shocks and vulnerabilities are unavoidable, improving debt management represents an important first step to help insulate public finances from future shocks and upheavals,” she stated.
The Caribbean has suffered direct damages of almost US$1.6 billion annually over the last 20 years from natural disasters. This significantly impacted economic activity and forced reconstruction costs in countries with limited fiscal space. In the absence of active risk management, catastrophic events represent a serious risk to long-term development efforts in the region.
Against this backdrop, the conference will focus on a number of issues critical to improving debt outcomes in the Caribbean, including macroeconomic and fiscal management, financial market development, debt issuance and restructuring, options for managing risks from natural disasters and climate change, and, debt management capacity building and related practices. The focus will be on learning lessons from other countries in the region, as well as distilling best practices from across the Americas and the world.
“The Caribbean has been rocked by crises of every kind—from social to political; from hurricanes to earthquakes; from hyper-inflation to full-fledged debt crises. Caribbean countries also face unparalleled risks from climate change. These fragilities have contributed to macroeconomic and financial instability and volatility—both factors that exacerbate debt problems,” stated Turner-Jones.
She underscored the IDB’s commitment to supporting governments in related areas, including through financial and technical support. “Our contingent credit lines have already proven themselves an indispensable source of low-cost, rapid-disbursing, emergency financing in the wake of Hurricane Dorian, that can help mitigate against the devastating financial and debt-related impacts of disasters,” she added.
The Inter-American Development Bank is devoted to improving lives. Established in 1959, the IDB is a leading source of long-term financing for economic, social and institutional development in Latin America and the Caribbean. The IDB also conducts cutting-edge research and provides policy advice, technical assistance and training to public and private sector clients throughout the region.