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Caribbean Development Bank backs continued economic growth for region despite challenges; Belize “outperforming” regional fellows

Posted: Wednesday, January 18, 2023. 12:01 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) is forecasting 5.7 percent regional growth in 2023 as tourism and energy investments advance in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, though subject to some risks associated with more advanced economies slowing down.

At its annual news conference at the Bank’s headquarters in Bridgetown, Barbados, analysts projected Belize to grow by 8.5 percent for 2022, behind the regional average of 10.3 percent but outperforming fellow service exporters (4.6 percent on average) and the region generally except for Guyana (4.9 percent), as the tourism sector is reviving faster here than in the rest of the region.

The CDB’s Vice President (Operations), Isaac Solomon, stated: “Looking ahead to 2023 we project that, despite facing multiple challenges, Borrowing Member Countries (BMCs) economic performance will continue to improve over the medium-term. While cautiously optimistic about the near-term outlook and recognizing the uncertainty regarding the war in Ukraine, it is difficult to estimate growth with a large degree of certainty.”

According to the Bank’s Executive, the challenges associated with past economic performance and global conditions place the region at a critical juncture, adding that the impact of protracted shocks compounded the Region’s socioeconomic difficulties. The CDB disbursed US$292.5 million to borrowing member countries in 2022 and approved a further US$158.1 million in grants and loans. The Bank’s financed projects in its 19 member countries total 65, ranging from youth, agriculture, water, education, infrastructure, renewable energy, gender, trade, transportation, climate change, and MSME development to the creative sector.

Solomon acknowledged that much more work lies ahead in seeking new avenues and opportunities to fund the region’s growth and development. Beyond direct financial support, the Bank recommends certain measures for governments to lead growth and development and increase regional resilience. These include: supporting comprehensive debt management strategies, public financial management, and promoting access to adequate and affordable financing; promoting gender equality, women’s reintegration into the workforce and the prevention of discrimination.

As well, the Bank recommends promoting a private sector ecosystem that has innovation, diversification, and financial inclusion of the most vulnerable; key priority actions in strengthening governance capacity to deliver through the implementation of cross-sectoral policies and programs and protecting the poorest as well as revolutionizing digital infrastructure and technical proficiency and mainstreaming environmental sustainability and climate change.

 

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