CDB President calls to tackle weak implementation in development to transform the Caribbean

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CDB President Smith addressing the 2019 Caribbean Forum at the opening

At the opening of the 2019 Caribbean Forum in Bridgetown, Barbados, President Dr. Wm Warren Smith of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) highlighted that challenges with the implementation of projects and policies were a constraint for the development in the Region. In order to make the Caribbean a better place, it is necessary to tackle poor rates of implementation and weak implementation capacity, which are ongoing concerns for Caribbean public sector managers.

“Moving the needle on the solutions to our Region’s perennial challenges requires a relentless commitment to implementation, starting with a cultural shift that encourages increased accountability,” said President Smith. “We often joke about Caribbean people always being late.  But time is money, undermining our capacity to deliver goods and services in a timely manner, and undercutting our ability to compete based on low cost and high quality.”

Yet, lateness is only one manifestation of the implementation problem, noted Smith. Public sector investment programmes are underperforming, with implementation rate below 35% being reported by a number of countries. The low rate undermines private sector confidence and its willingness to invest. The implementation challenge also affects the work of CDB, and is manifested in growing levels of undisbursed balances. Other development agencies face similar concerns.

“None of us are delivering on our development mandate if the funds intended for these countries remain in our coffers. Our goal should be for the intended beneficiaries to be able to access these resources for high priority development projects as quickly as possible,” said Smith.

CDB is addressing the implementation issue from several fronts, including supporting behaviour change in its borrowing member countries through institutionalised delivery mechanisms. CDB has also trained over 2,000 public in public policy analysis and project-cycle management since 2016. President Smith announced that the Bank will launch e-learning modules to reach an even larger number of public officials in the Caribbean.

Under the theme of “Regional Transformation for Inclusive and Sustainable Growth” the 9th Caribbean Forum co-organised by the CDB, the Government of Barbados and the International Monetary Fund, brought together 200 senior policymakers, public, private, and multilateral development partners.

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