September 20, 2020

Investment, unemployment challenging the Caribbean says minister at Cayman Islands CDB Meeting


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Dr Bhoe Tewarie

WHILE the Caribbean region is projected to experience positive economic growth this year, quickening the pace of investment decisions and curbing unemployment remain major challenges confronting all countries in the region. This was the view expressed by Planning and Economy Minister Dr Bhoe Tewarie when he addressed the 42nd Annual Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Board of Governors Meeting in the Cayman Islands last month.

Dr Tewarie observed, “Projected growth rates for the year 2012, are promising, as all of the Caribbean economies are expected to experience a positive increase in economic activities.” However he added,“The evidence suggests that this emergent recovery in growth is still not far reaching enough to be reflected in improved employment or more robust business activity.” “Stimulating business activity, quickening the pace of investment decisions and unemployment all remain formidable challenges across the Caribbean region,” he stated.

Tewarie said Trinidad and Tobago (TT) was in no way immune to these challenges. “An examination of our marginally decreased unemployment figures from 5.9 percent in 2010 to 5.8 percent in 2011, indicates that more needs to be done in order to increase employment, improve economic inclusion and reduce poverty levels,” he explained.

Tewarie indicated that at the end of 2009, poverty levels in the country were close to 18 percent. He said last year, “indications are that they are around 14.7 percent so we are making small progress.” The minister said as the deadline for the achievement of the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015 approaches, “Trinidad and Tobago’s progress is not without its share of obstacles.” “We remain challenged by the impact of environmental conditions such as climate change and natural disasters which impede economic growth. The Bank’s Borrowing Member Countries (BMCs) are familiar with this reality,” he said. However Tewarie declared that TT is pressing on “with our emphasis on the poor and on vulnerable groups in society and on things like ensuring that our healthcare service delivery is improved.”

Tewarie noted the meeting was taking place against the backdrop of “ continuing challenges to the stabilisation of global growth.” “The signs of improvement are encouraging due to positive growth in emerging and developing economies such as Brazil, Russia, China and India. The United States appears to be on the upswing as the labour and housing markets begin to rebound,” he stated.

However Tewarie cautioned, “The lingering problems of sovereign debt in Europe will continue to temper the outlook for growth and the crisis in Greece will continue to pose a major challenge not only to the Euro but to the integrity of the European Union itself. Any crisis in Europe will have inevitable but perhaps unpredictable consequences for an inter-connected world.”

He said it is acknowledged that trends in growth in developed market economies whether positive or negative, as well as developments in international commodity and financial markets, affect the fortunes of Caribbean economies, due to their highly open nature and their connectedness to the larger economies through finance, tourism and trade.

“On average regional growth still has not returned to pre-crisis levels as Caribbean economies continued to struggle in 2011 to achieve pre-2008 levels of economic growth. It is estimated that the average real economic growth for the region for the first half of 2011 was 1.7 per cent compared to 0.2 per cent for the corresponding period in 2010,” Tewarie observed.

“Most economies of the region, registered either relatively low or negative growth rates, connected as they are to Europe and the USA, however, Guyana and Suriname did better.”

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