BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – “THE present circumstances call for the assertive action and a high degree of collaboration and coordination as the global condition will have an impact on every sector of our economies.”
Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas made this statement in his featured address at the 93rd Directors Meeting of the Caribbean Association of Industries and Commerce held in St. Kitts on February 5.
He said it must be clearly understood that the national and regional private sector institutions have important roles to play and must participate fully in the process as “we are all in this together”.
Dr. Douglas said as major companies undergo significant employee cutbacks and temporary and permanent closures, “no country can continue to do business as usual”. He stressed that the more vulnerable countries have very little capacity and capability to engage in stimulus packages being pursued by those in developed countries, adding that there is also the potential for significant reductions in foreign aid.
“It would have a debilitating impact on critical social programmes. Falling remittances, reduction in foreign investment as well as declining demand for export from developing countries could and would have substantial negative impacts on the economies of small-island developing states. [The situation] must awaken each one of us in the Caribbean to the essential of working together to ease the impact of the global crisis on our regional citizens
“There is no doubt that the road ahead would be difficult, it would test our own creativity as a people. It would test our own capabilities and capacities; our own willingness to work closely with each other; our own commitment to regionalism and our own perseverance as a people. We as a people in the Caribbean region have come a very long way over the past decades.
“We must work to sustain the gains that we have made. We must avoid the spectre of isolationism and perfectionism, instead, we must continue to build economic confidence in the region and enhance our own economic frameworks now to take advantage of the recovery when it comes.”
Prime Minister Douglas acknowledged that the region’s public finance sector will come under pressure as governments face the challenges of implementing measures to stabilize economic growth and providing crucial systems to the most vulnerable in the region. He cautioned that the test to regional integration, through the instruments of CARICOM and the OECS, would be most severe.
Douglas however expressed his confidence in the region’s timely recovery stating that the region “will rise through this storm as it has done others; it will emerge stronger to face the future”.