Greater Private Sector support needed – Ali tells new CDB Head
– outlines regional challenges Bank can address
President Dr Irfaan Ali on Friday lobbied for greater support for Private Sector development, while sharing ideas with President of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Dr Hyginus “Gene” Leon, on how to address challenges in Guyana and the region.
The newly elected CDB President is on a two-day visit with his team in Guyana as part of a familiarisation tour of the financial institution’s members in the region.
During the Friday afternoon meeting at the Office of the President in Georgetown, President Ali outlined with “great clarity” the vision for Guyana and the Government’s macro plans, as well as “what it is we believe the Bank can do to meet the challenges that face not only Guyana, but the region”.
According to a statement from the Office of the President, the Head of State also shared with the visiting dignitaries disaggregated information relating to the Government’s vision on various sectors and for future projects that are necessary to move the country forward.
“An important part of that is the inclusion of the Private Sector and greater support for Private Sector development,” the President posited.
It was noted that calls were also made for more information to be made available to the Private Sector to help them understand the opportunities currently available in the Bank, and “a reform within the Bank itself” to cater to the developmental needs of the region.
President Ali was accompanied by Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo and Senior Minister with responsibility for Finance, Dr Ashni Singh during the meeting.
The Guyanese team of Government officials emphasised to the CDB President and his team that the Bank has an important role to play in supporting Private Sector development not just in Guyana, but throughout the region.
The President has been adamant that the Government would support Private Sector initiatives, especially when it comes to developmental projects.
This viewpoint was expounded upon by Dr Singh, who noted that the Private Sector is earmarked to play key roles in Guyana’s future.
“…We have been speaking about things like public-private partnerships for some time. We are hoping to be able to see private financing play a bigger role including in infrastructure projects. And then of course the role of the Private Sector in investing in the productive economy,” Dr Singh stated.
According to the senior Minister, Friday’s discussion can be viewed against the backdrop of Guyana’s role not only as a borrower and a beneficiary of the Bank, but as a shareholder in the Bank.
He explained that a brief history of the Bank’s engagement in Guyana, including support for a number of developmental projects, especially through the Bank’s Basic Needs Trust Fund facilities were also discussed.
Meanwhile, the conversation also focused on issues surrounding climate change, the environment, the energy sector and the national development priorities of Guyana and other Caribbean nations.
Dr Singh said that overall, the exchanges were “very forward-looking,” not only the articulation of Guyana’s development agenda, but through shared ideas on the Bank’s future in the region.
“…It was a very forward-looking conversation about the future direction with the Bank and potential opportunities for the Bank. We shared some thoughts on the Bank’s continued important role in the region’s landscape,” the Finance Minister said.
Giving an insight into the meeting from the CDB’s perspective, Dr Leon said that the discussions were “very fruitful and constructive,” and underscored how the Bank and Guyana would sustain their great relationship.
“We touched on a number of topics that are of common concern now in the region in terms of its development and how the Bank can hopefully assist in that particular direction,” Dr Leon said.
However, the CDB President noted that it was not a working meeting but more of a familiarisation visit on the heels of him taking reins of the regional financial institution in May.
Dr Leon, who is on a two-day visit, plans to next meet with the CDB’s key interlocker in Guyana—the Ministry of Finance—as well as other Government agencies. He also intends to visit some projects that the CDB would have facilitated over the years and possibly engage, informally, with the Private Sector.
“It is really a free-flowing two-day visit. We’ll probably take a look at some projects that CDB have facilitated over time. Maybe potentially even meet with some Private Sector individuals in a more casual manner, not in any formal sense of deep discussions. It’s really a getting to know where we are in Guyana type of visit at this point,” Dr Leon stressed.
The visit to Guyana by the CDB President is the first stop on his trip around the Caribbean to build relationships between the Bank and members.
The Caribbean Development Bank is a regional financial institution established in 1970 for the purpose of contributing to the harmonious economic growth and development of member countries in the Caribbean, and promoting economic cooperation and integration among them, having special and urgent regard to the needs of the less developed members of the Region.