September 20, 2020

Closing Remarks by the Premier, The Hon. McKeeva Bush, OBE, JP for the Caribbean Development Bank closing Ceremony

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Salutations.

If the cultural genome of the world could be decoded, it would be seen that the Caribbean boasts some of the brightest, nimblest, most adaptable people on the planet. This has been reaffirmed during the past week, as we close today the history books on the 42nd Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors.

In closing the books, I hasten to say that we have not created a tome that will be bound, shelved and – if we’re lucky – occasionally dusted. The decisions documented out of this meeting are intended to enhance the standard of life for Caribbean people. By the will and commitment of CDB, and through our support, the pages of our book will be well worn. This is a document intended to be worked, and worked hard. And that’s how it should be.

You see, although there was much ceremony throughout this meeting, as befits a high-level gathering, at the end of the day we will be judged by the proverbial sweat of our brows. We will be judged by the critical thinking we applied to the challenges and opportunities set upon us by the global economy and supranational bodies, and by our own internal processes and norms. Substance, ladies and gentlemen; we will be judged on the substance of this meeting

In my opinion, the substance became evident seven days ago, with the very successful Vybzing Youth Programme, and the procurement workshop for civil servants. It continued with small-business workshops on food and hygiene, and also computerised job estimation tools. Professor Amar Bhidé, the august speaker for the William G. Demas Memorial Lecture, demonstrated critical thinking of the highest calibre, as he pried our minds from the shackles of globally accepted finance and economic models, and turned us instead toward fresh thinking.

Woven between all of this substance, we exalted and celebrated irrepressible, infectious Caribbean culture – yours, mine and ours. Not even the rain could stop that.

So as you see, a lot was accomplished. I thank all of you, as delegates, for being focused on the purpose of this meeting. I also thank the organisers from CDB, as well as my colleagues and staff from the Cayman Islands Government, for such a professionally staged event. You have my heartfelt admiration.

My friends, we in the Caribbean are a regional, and lest we forget, a global asset. Anywhere in the world we go, we find our Caribbean people – we have lent our talent to the world, in every sphere of life. Through respectful and clear-minded support of each other, we will more firmly take our place in global economics. We cannot ever fail to fully engage with the world; indeed, if we do not engage the world, we cannot hope to thrive.

We therefore must listen, carefully consider, and then speak and act wisely about the issues we discussed this week – such as appropriate regulation, prudent fiscal policies, business climate reforms, energy efficiency, and citizen security

With this truth in mind, I submit to you that our economic success, cultural eminence, and social stability will be built on one word, applied to three different groups. That word is responsibility.

CDB must be responsible in its development practices. The bank historically has enacted practices that balance the needs of diverse borrowing member countries. This is a difficult task and as the world becomes more integrated, it won’t get any easier. So the responsibility of CDB is to continue expanding its intellectual capacity – as well as its prudent compassion, if you will – for the collective good of the people of this region.

BMCs, we too must be responsible for developing, enacting and updating sound fiscal policies. Recently the Cayman Islands has received some press about activities that, ultimately, are about our fiscal policies. Is this good criticism, or just news of what people in authority can represent, or misrepresent? Should we, or any other government, cry foul to criticism? Should we have knee-jerk reactions? Or should we persevere and improve our policies if there are credible comments? The answer, I believe, is irrefutably clear.

And lastly, our citizens must be responsible – for their own well being, for the social decisions they make that affect their communities, for the wise upbringing of their children.

So again I say, ladies and gentlemen, that the 42nd meeting is indeed one for the history books. My hope is that as the generations march on, they will study what we have done, applaud the results of our actions, and use our framework as springboards to enhanced stability and sustainability. Any good contractor will tell you that developments are built according to plan, one block at a time; I trust the work plan we jointly have developed out of this meeting is strong and sound.

And as we each go back to our different countries, let us not forget that there is a Higher Being: Almighty God, in whom we live and move and have our being, who guides us and guards us, if we so allow Him. He will take us through the storms and challenges we face.

Thank you and God bless us, as we push on to greater economic, cultural, and social substance.

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