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April 17, 2009

Prime Minister Dean Barrow was among five regional leaders to speak at the official ceremony for the fifth summit of the Americas.  In his address Barrow said the Caribbean Community has not been passive especially with respect to the economic and financial crisis.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow; CARICOM Chairman

“As early as November 2008 member states were urged by the Heads of Government to take prudential measures. These were targeted at the areas of foreign exchange reserves, deposit insurance, capitalization ratio, local assets ratio, cross border supervision and supervision of non-banking intuitions such as insurance companies. It was also understood at that time that member states would need to seek multilateral assistance to engage in countercyclical policies. Such policies were to include changing the composition of bank lending toward more productive and export related activities, streamlining contingency planning with respect to the financial and non-financial sectors and undertaking public investment that facilitated production of  tradable goods. Mr. Chairman Heads, ladies and gentlemen on this question of multilateral assistance the old saw remains true that it is an ill wind that blows no good. Thus, we in the Caribbean look forward to at least one positive development from the international crisis: the opportunity of reform of the global architecture. We there particularly welcome the declaration by the G20 of the determination to reform and modernize the international financial institutions to ensure they can assist members and shareholders effectively in the new challenges they face. Even more critical is the assurance that the emerging and developing economies including the poorest must have greater voice and representation. Of course, any discussion of improved capacity on the part of the IFI’s must start with the basic platform of increased capitalization. In our region the IDB has become the major source of financing for Latin America and the Caribbean. Since 1995 when the 8th replenishment was approved the banks yearly volume was steadily increasing, jumping by 75% in the tow years between 2006 and 2008. In the context of the current circumstances it is obviously necessary that there be now a major effort at recapitalization. The calculations in this regard suggest that we are looking at an immediate need for an addition $180 billion to resuscitate both the ordinary resources and the concessional fund for special operations.”

Barrow said when it comes to the International Financial Sector there are two reforms that are of importance to Caribbean countries.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow; CARICOM Chairman

“One is the need for special treatment to be accorded to highly indebted middle income countries that because of well known structural vulnerabilities are finding it impossible to relieve their debt burdens. Under these circumstances, graduating CARICOM countries out of access to concessionary loans on the basis of mere per capita income seems like the most unkindness cut of all. It must be remembered that as one Caribbean luminary put it, a mouse is not a small elephant. A second reform relates to the need of more understanding and greater perspective regarding the treatment of offshore jurisdictions in small developing countries. Ever since the onset of globalization, diversification has been a mantra in our sub region; but there is limited scope for diversification, so it was not surprising that many of us seized on an area that made very good economic sense. As has been pointed out by Professor Avinach Persod, offshore finance is an industry in which our countries can easily scale up. The combination of large finance and small state means tax rates can be low.  That is why the Caribbean has become the fourth largest banking sector in the world lead primarily by Bermuda, the Cayman’s, the Bahamas and the BVI. Even in my own country, with a GDB of just over US$1 billion, the international banking sector maintains deposits in excess of US$250 million. Now all of us that expended such considerable human and financial resources to develop an offshore sector try to do so in keeping with the evolving principles of transparency espoused by the OECD. While in this regard, we all no doubt fell some what short of complete glory. Bere Sternes, Meryl Lynch at all were not brought down by offshore financial centers. The financial crisis that has now envelops us all occurred for reasons that had nothing to do with Caribbean jurisdictions. Surely then the way forward now is to insist on and expand the modalities for effective exchange of tax information. It is not to precipitate a pile on effect in our small countries by destroying a critical component of the very service area into which we were encouraged to diversify.”

Prime Minister also addressed the issue of climate change.  

Prime Minister Dean Barrow; CARICOM Chairman

“We in the Caribbean Community have already been trying to help ourselves in the struggle to adopt and mitigate. We do this principally through the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center which has been working assiduously but with far too limited resources. On this question of funding, the magnitude of the mobilization required is spelled out in a 2006 World Bank report which estimated that developing countries would need US$10 to US$40 billion a year to cope with climate change. Among the proposals being advanced to meet these costs is a significant injection of new money over and above the traditional ODA target specifically devoted to adaptation. We believe the sources of this new financing must be stable and predictable and should derive from mandatory contributions from developed countries as well as levies on the Carbon markets and other emissions trading schemes. Mr. Chairman, Heads, Ladies and Gentlemen; an institution such as the CARICOM Center for Climate Change demonstrates that although CARICOM consist of small states, we punched above our weight in pursuing measures for a viable and secure society. We have dedicated ourselves to the creation of a single market and economy as a way to insert ourselves into the global economy and produce prosperity for our citizens.”

Prime Minister Barrow said CARICOM’s positive record as part of the hemispheric process for more than 40 years is a clear demonstration of our commitment to the benefits of cooperation among the nations of North, Central and South America and the Caribbean.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow; CARICOM Chairman

“In that regard I thank the OAS as an institution and the individual countries of the hemisphere for their continuing special support to Hattie; one of CARICOM member states. Also in the spirit of mutual respect we are heartened by recent steps to change the relationship between Cuba and the United States. We have made it clear at every summit that the formal inclusion of Cuba into the mainstream of hemispheric affairs remains a priority for us. We are convinced now that the new US administration fully understands the need for new approaches in a new era which will lead to new changes including the lifting of the embargo. We in CARICOM stand ready to assist in the promotion of dialog between our two neighbors in the dialog of a complex process of rebuilding a relationship and reversing 50 years of non-engagement. Mr. Chairman Heads, ladies and gentlemen the challenges threats and turmoil with which our region and the world are confronted are almost biblical in their proportions. From its origins on wall street, the financial and economic crisis has spread to every corner of the planet demonstrating once and for all just how interconnected the global village is. More that ever t we are compelled to work together. When this conference is over the question must not be weather it was more a summit accompanied by pageantry or a pageant accompanied by summitry. The declaration of commitment that we will endorse must contain concrete programs and plans of action and going forward our aims and objectives must be honored not just by invocation but by realization. Any dialogue of the deaf is over. The keys now are consecration of our vision, consummation of our mission. Only so will we be able to give our citizens the chance at peace, security and in candescent forward always the pursuit of happiness. This is the hemispheric destiny long desired, long deserved.”

Other speakers at today’s ceremony included Argentina’s Cristina Kirchner, Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, US President Barack Obama and host Prime Minister Patrick Manning.

#333798 - 04/19/09 11:31 AM Re: PRIME MINISTER DEAN BARROW'S ADDRESS [Re: Marty]
Katie Valk Offline
I'm so glad you posted this-I listened to De Kirchner from Argentina, Ortega from Nicaragua followed by Dean Barrow, whose speech was eloquent and touched on the issues affecting the region. Barrow spoke on behalf of Belize and Caricom, of which he is the Chairperson. It was a great speech. Hard act for Obama to follow.

Edited by Katie Valk (04/19/09 11:43 AM)
Belize based travel specialist

#333801 - 04/19/09 11:38 AM Re: PRIME MINISTER DEAN BARROW'S ADDRESS [Re: Katie Valk]
SP Daily Offline
The man has a silver tongue!


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