As Caribbean economies continue to struggle to recover from the global economic meltdown, nations must figure out how to preserve decades-long gains and expand them to others, the World Bank’s regional vice president for Latin America and the Caribbean said.
“The time is now for action,” said Hasan Tuluy, who is attending a forum on Caribbean growth in Nassau, Bahamas and will give the keynote address Friday.
The World Bank is among several multi-lateral lending agencies involved in the forum, sponsored by the International Monetary Fund. The forum has attracted central bank governors, finance ministers and others to address growth challenges in the Caribbean. It is the second time this week Caribbean Community leaders have gathered to discuss how to support their ailing economies.
On Tuesday, leaders of the 15-member regional Caribbean Community regional bloc, CARICOM, ended a one-day gathering in Trinidad and Tobago by agreeing to form a Commission on the Economy. The commission will be chaired by Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart.
Caribbean economies have been hard hit by the global recession, and some countries in the region are among the most indebted in the world. In recent years, several nations have had to turn to the IMF and other lenders for additional support.
“The fiscal house needs to be brought into order,” said Tuluy, noting that the money being used to repay crushing debt could be used to help sustain or grow economies.
Tuluy said the good news is that in the last four decades, Caribbean living, education and health standards, and quality of life have significantly improved. But challenges remain especially in addressing high unemployment among youth.
“There are a number of people who have not shared in the prosperity of the past,” he said. “It’s time for us to look at what kind of framework, sets of actions can be taken to take this forward.”