Caribbean Development Bank President Dr William Warren Smith says Guyana is among the few notable exceptions among Caribbean economies that are doing well and could serve as a model to other regional economies.
In a joint interview with Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh hosted on NCN Channel 11 on Monday, Dr Smith said generally the countries that have managed their fiscal affairs well and have had the good fortune of being producers of commodities are the ones that are doing well, economically.
“That is the story of Guyana and I like to talk about the Guyana story because it is inspirational,” he said, according to a report from the Government Information Agency (GINA). Countries that are having a difficult time, have an opportunity to look at Guyana “which has travelled a very difficult road over a very long time,” he added.
The CDB president noted that successive Guyanese Governments have made tough decisions and stayed the course. “There has been a consistency of policy over a very long time and what you’ve seen today is the culmination of that vision, that tenacity to do the right things,” he said. Guyana has laid the groundwork to attract massive investment and is attractive to foreign direct investment and its economic climate is good, he said, adding that it is “well endowed” with natural resources. Other Caribbean countries without Guyana’s resources can still make their way with what they have, he said, whether it is education or “sun, sea and sand.”
Dr Smith said that while regional states with primarily service type industries are the most challenged economically, it doesn’t mean that their future is dim. “What it means is that they need to learn from the experiences of Guyana and look at other countries in the world which have learnt the lessons of good fiscal and debt management. Build on that infrastructure and take the opportunity to make their way in the world,” he said.
According to Dr Smith, a number of countries are now taking the tough steps needed to “put their houses in order” these include St Kitts and Nevis which had one of the highest debt to GDP ratios in the Caribbean, if not the world. This country made some tough decisions and is in the process of recovering its economic strength. Grenada and Jamaica are on the same path, economically, he said. The economic downturn resulted from the international recession which gained momentum from 2008, the press release said. Some nations have paid the price for not being as prudent as they should have been, but the lessons have been learnt, he added.
“One of the reasons why the CDB is here, is that when the countries go through difficult times, that is when we need to step up to the plate,” he said. The bank is going to continue to work with Caribbean countries along with development partners to ensure that there is “a good story at the end of the day.”
According to Dr Singh, Guyana is inextricably linked to the Caribbean. The nature of today’s world is one of interconnectedness and inter-relatedness and “what happens in the rest of the world feeds into the regional and domestic economies,” he said. The minister said that while Guyana has been aided by the rising global prices for some of its commodities, government worked hard to ensure that the economy is diversified in order to avoid depending on one sector. This called for tough decisions that were not popular in the short-term but were necessary to ensure its long-term prosperity.
Dr Smith was in Guyana for the CDB’s annual Board of Directors Meeting which concluded yesterday.