The Caricom Development Fund (CDF) has approved US$8.3 million for Belize and St Lucia in the first disbursement of its Country Assistance Programme (CAP).
In a press release the Caricom Secretariat said the total sum granted to Belize is US$3.4 million comprising a US$3 million loan to the Development Finance Cor-poration in support of small and medium sized enterprises and micro-entrepreneurs. In addition, a grant not exceeding US$200,000 drawn from the technical assistance re-sources donated by the Government of Finland will be allocated for “green projects” and two grants totalling US$175,000 were approved for Belize’s Statutory Grant Allocation.
The first grant will be given to the Belize Trade and Investment Services Corporation (Beltrade) for the development of a policy on micro, small and medium sized enterprise development. The second grant will support the Public Sector Investment Programme to develop and implement a functioning Management Information System.
In the case of St Lucia a loan for US$3.7 million was approved for a line of credit to be administered by the Saint Lucia Development Bank for on-lending to the private sector. It is expected that the line of credit will finance, at a minimum, 62 loans to small and medium sized businesses to enable them to initiate, retrain, retool, expand or diversify business operations and to create additional employment. A US$1.1 million grant was also approved to finance the establishment of a Trade Export Development Agency.
Both approved CAPs were developed in consultation with the stakeholders in the two countries and are consistent with member states development objectives as well as the mandate of the CDF.
The country assistant approach where the CDF and the individual member states agree on a cluster of related activities as opposed to the “project by project” approach is more proactive and responsive to member states. The programming approach to the delivery of assistance will result in administrative cost savings and the optimal use of staff time. It is also in keeping with best practices for delivery of technical assistance.
In explaining the board’s decision to member states, CEO Ambassador Lorne Mc Donnough said the CDF is scheduling negotiations in respect of CAPs with the remaining OECS member states and Guyana in order to complete the assessment and disbursement process. He said this initiative will allow the CDF to roll out the CAPs expediently once member states comply with the agreement governing the CDF.
Mc Donnough also said to ensure equitable disbursement of the resources to all potential beneficiary CDF countries the CDF Country Allocation Model is being finalised for board sign-off. This will eliminate the possibility that any member state could access a disproportionate share of CDF resources at the expense of other potential beneficiaries.