Developmental Challenges Facing the Caribbean
Trinidad and Tobago and the IMF
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The following press statement was made by Mr.Takatoshi Kato, Deputy Managing Director, International Monetary Fund, at a high-level Seminar on Developmental Challenges Facing the Caribbean in Port of Spain Trinidad and Tobago, on June 11-12, 2004:
"My visit takes place on the occasion of the 2004 High-Level Seminar on the Developmental Challenges Facing the Caribbean-a two-day conference hosted jointly by the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago and the IMF and attended by eminent experts, senior policy makers, the donor community, and representatives of the civil society from the region. It coincides with the celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago—I would like to congratulate Governor Williams for this great achievement.
"The purpose of this visit—my first to the Caribbean as Deputy Managing Director of the IMF—is to listen to and participate in the discussions on the main challenges facing the region. Today, the first day of the conference, there were three important sessions on development strategies, stabilization and debt, and the sources of growth. As a result, I already have a deeper appreciation of the region's achievements and its challenges. My hope is that, at the conclusion of this seminar, we will together emerge with a better sense of the policy agenda for realizing the region's growth potential and moving it forward.
"This conference has also provided me with a valuable opportunity to interact with many leaders of the region. I had the privilege today of meeting with the Honorable Prime Minister Patrick Manning, Minister Conrad Enill, and Central Bank Governor Ewart Williams of our host country Trinidad and Tobago. I also valued very much the discussions I had this morning with Governor Dwight Venner of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank and his team, and several senior officials of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union countries. The occasion of the conference is another opportunity for us to strengthen the regional dimension in our dialogue with the Caribbean countries.
"While the Caribbean region is a diverse group of countries—in culture and in the nature of their economies—there are many common strengths. The high quality of human capital and abundant natural resources, democratic political systems and, importantly, the determination of the people to confront the many challenges of globalization, are assets of justifiable pride.
"In particular, I am encouraged by the determination of policy makers in the region to strengthen their policy framework to ensure more rapid and sustained growth that works for the benefit of all their citizens. Recurring themes at the conference included developing a more supportive macroeconomic policy framework with declining public debt burdens and strengthening financial systems; increasing the flexibility of the economies to respond to shocks as well as to take advantage of the opportunities of globalization; and enhancing domestic institutions in areas critical to entrenching macroeconomic stability, attracting foreign investment, and reducing poverty.
"While policies in these and other areas will necessarily be tailored to the individual circumstances of each country, building a wide social consensus for them is key to their lasting success. In this endeavor, the IMF is a full partner. We have greatly enhanced our role in surveillance, and are placing more emphasis on issues crucial to the region's outlook, for example, in assessing fiscal sustainability and strengthening further the financial sector. Indeed, we will do all we can within our mandate to help our members develop and entrench this agenda."
IMF EXTERNAL RELATIONS DEPARTMENT