... says ECCB governor

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados -- The governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), Sir Dwight Venner, has warned Caribbean countries that crime is having a negative impact on their economic growth.

The CMC reported that Venner told delegates attending the Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police (ACCP) conference that ended in Bridgetown, Barbados, on Friday that a study showed that the cost of fighting crime in Jamaica in 2001 was $12.4 billion or 3.7 percent of gross domestic product. He also cited a 2009 study, which took a "comprehensive look" at the impact of crime in that country.

Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), Sir Dwight Venner
"It reveals the evolution of a system of criminality, which has protruded in every facet of society," he said, noting the maturation of this system is frightening, as it poses a significant challenge in the state system, which was seen recently as the government sought to extradite a gang leader from the island.

He said that the focus for Caribbean policymakers over the last two decades had been on the increasing external vulnerability on the economies and this was demonstrated by the transition from the agriculture economies to tourism, which has increased vulnerability.

"The major problem arises, however, because of the impact of crime... an industry like tourism. Just two weeks ago cruise ships pulled out of St Kitts because of the robbery of a busload of tourists at one of the premier historical sites," Venner said, adding that quick work by the police with the assistance of the public led to the apprehension of the perpetrators.

The financial sector also held areas of criminal activity by way of money laundering and terrorist financing, which had the countries under "constant scrutiny," he said.

Venner said that intimidation by criminal gangs by the workers in these sectors also impacted on production and productivity.

In view of those challenges, he said "significant" restructuring of the domestic economies was necessary at the national level.

The ECCB governor said that justice, law and order must be seen as the logical progressive of that and more emphasis needed to be placed on the police by way of education and increasing capacities.

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