2017 High Level Caribbean Forum

Unleashing Growth and Strengthening Resilience

Kingston, Jamaica

November 16, 2017

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), in partnership with the Government of Jamaica, organized a high-level conference on Thursday, November 16, 2017 in Kingston, Jamaica. The conference entitled "Unleashing Growth and Strengthening Resilience in the Caribbean" focused on the unique issues the Caribbean region is facing and the opportunities that can be found within to cope with the changing global landscape.


Thursday, November 16, Morning

7:30 am – 8:30 am


8:30 am – 8:40 am

Opening Ceremony

8:45 am – 9.00 am

Special remarks 
Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, IMF
Watch webcast

9:05 am – 9.20 am

Opening address
The Most Honorable Andrew Holness, ON, MP, Prime Minister of Jamaica
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9:20 am – 9:25 am

Photo session

9:30 am – 11:00 am

Session I: The Caribbean Growth Challenge: Crime and Youth Unemployment

Growth in the Caribbean has remained weak in the last three decades. One of the most significant growth bottlenecks is the high crime, which, together with high unionization and a rigid labor market have fostered a vicious cycle whereupon young people struggling with the lack of opportunities due to low growth turn to illegal activities and crime, which in turn further depress growth.

The panel will explore (i) links between growth and crime, (ii) cases where structural reforms (business climate, lean public sector, resolve crime, labor market reforms, education, economic diversification) and strong macroeconomic policies have borne fruit, and (iii) multi-pronged policies to break the cycle between lack of opportunities, crime, and low growth.
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Session Moderator: Robin Wigglesworth, Financial Times


  • Richard Aborn, President, Citizens Crime Commission of New York City
  • Anthony Clayton, Professor, University of the West Indies (view presentation)
  • Elizabeth Ward, Chairman of the Board, Violence Prevention Alliance, Jamaica (view presentation)
  • Alana Wheeler, Deputy Director, Counter Human Trafficking Unit, Trinidad and Tobago
11:00 am – 11:15 am

Coffee break

11:15 am – 12:45 pm

Session II: Fiscal Policy and Political Cycles

Politics and electoral cycles can have a strong impact on fiscal policies and economic outcomes. They jointly can deter consensus building, spur fiscal profligacy, and foster policy reversals. In the wake of the global financial crisis, there has been renewed global interest in building fiscal institutions to safeguard fiscal discipline. What lessons for the Caribbean from experiences from other countries? How can improved fiscal institutions ensure that political and electoral motives do not lead to policy reversal?

The panel will explore (i) case studies where implementation of fiscal rules and frameworks supported fiscal discipline, confidence, and growth in the face of political/election pressures (ii) how to secure broad political consensus around important reforms, and (iii) policies and coordination measures to put in place transparent and broad-based fiscal reforms which ensure equal rules across the region.
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Session Moderator: Oliver Clarke, Chairman, The Gleaner Group


  • Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, ex-President of Guyana
  • Bruce Golding, former Prime Minister of Jamaica
  • Richard Byles, Chairman, Sagicor Group
  • Andrea Repetto, President, Chile Fiscal Advisory Council
12:45 pm – 2:00 pm

Keynote address:
Presented by Peter Blair Henry, Dean, NYU Stern Business School
Watch summary of keynote address - Read keynote address - View presentation

Thursday, November 16, Afternoon

2:00 pm – 3:30 pm

Session III: Financial Sector: Stability and Growth Tradeoffs

A well-functioning and healthy financial sector should strike a balance between risk-taking, growth, and stability. Financial sectors in the Caribbean, however, have historically either taken on too much or too little risk, with the inherent implications for growth and stability. In countries with high public debt, banks have grown dependent on government paper and crowded out private sector credit. In other countries, banks have instead engaged in excessively risky lending, as illustrated by some countries’ struggle with NPLs. How should Caribbean financial systems strike a balance between supporting private sector credit and supporting growth, while maintaining financial stability? What are the adequate levels of regulation, supervision, and legal systems which support financial inclusion and deepening without jeopardizing stability?

The panel will examine: (i) policies to address constraints on financial inclusion and deepening, (ii) tradeoffs between growth and stability, and (iii) strategies for strengthening regulatory, supervisory, and legal systems to best support financial deepening and inclusion.

Session Moderator: Paula Newton, CNN


  • Hon. Audley Shaw, Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Jamaica
  • Timothy Antoine, Governor, ECCB
  • John Rolle, Governor, Central Bank of Bahamas
  • Asli Demirguc-Kunt, Director, Development Research Group (DECRG), World Bank
  • Julian Mair, Chief Investment Strategist, JMMB
3:30 pm – 3:45 pm

Coffee break

4:00 pm – 5:30 pm

Panel Discussion: Challenges and Opportunities in the Caribbean

This session will take stock of the findings and discussions from the conference, including how key takeaways can be implemented by policymakers in the region.
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Session Moderator: Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, IMF


  • The Most Honourable Andrew Holness, Prime Minister of Jamaica
  • Dr. The Right Honourable Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada
  • The Honourable Kevin Peter Turnquest, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of The Bahamas