BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, March 3, 2017 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – Representatives of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) and the bank’s Monetary Council have expressed their satisfaction with the outcome of Wednesday’s Growth Dialogue with Social Partners and are now shifting their attention to the ratification and implementation of the ideas and suggestions that came out of that forum.
Held under the theme, “Working Together to Achieve Higher and More Inclusive Growth in the ECCU”, the forum sought to “forge consensus on a plan of action for addressing growth, competitiveness and employment in the ECCU.”
The local delegation, led by Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, also included Premier of Nevis, the Honourable Vance Amory; Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Andrew Skerritt and Deputy Financial Secretary, Mrs. Sylvia Gumbs.
Addressing members of the media following the 87th Meeting of the ECCB Monetary Council on 2ndMarch, Governor of the ECCB, Timothy Antoine said, “We had a good engagement yesterday (Wednesday, 1st March). I think for us we had three objectives. The first was to bring people together and talk about growth, not just governments, but the private sector, trade unions, civil society, which are our NGOs, the faith community, our youth—recognizing that the governments by themselves cannot deliver growth. At the end of the day governments will do what they can but the private sector has a role to play and every citizen has a role to play, so to that extent we had a lively exchange of views. We heard from various players; by the way the Leaders of Opposition were also in attendance, and at the end of the day we got reports from all the groups on recommendations.”
The second objective, according to Governor Antoine, was to see if those in attendance could reach a consensus around key action points that can be taken forward to help raise the trajectory of growth, competitiveness and employment in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU).
The ECCB Governor said one of the ideas raised during the Growth Dialogue was the revamping of the region’s education system.
“We have to reinvent our system at the early childhood level; 0-5 (years old), the primary level to more focus on subjects. We need to have more focus on skills, mindset, entrepreneurship and innovation and at the tertiary level to make sure that what our universities are putting out is what we need for development,” Mr. Antoine noted, pointing out for example “we have a lot of management majors now but we don’t have a particularly good record of managing things in our region.”
Governor Antoine’s views were shared by Chairman of the ECCB Monetary Council and Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, the Honourable Gaston Browne, who said he was particularly pleased with the call to ramp up entrepreneurship in the region.
“There was also a recommendation that we should even look at our economic models and to try and let’s say refine them or realign them to meet the realities within the region and at the same time even the state itself could be involved in entrepreneurial activities (by) perhaps partnering with the private sector in order to literally scale up investments and at the same time to jointly pursue investments which the private sector may not be able to pursue on its own,” Prime Minister Browne added.
The Monetary Council chair further noted that one of the resolves of the meeting is that each OECS country should seek to be listed in the top 50 of the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report.
Governor Antoine said the third objective of the forum was to put all the ideas and suggestions into an action plan that can be put in place over the next two to three years.
He indicated that within a few months a report will be drafted and the parties involved will begin looking at implementation, “because the reality is that it doesn’t matter how good the idea or ideas or even the actions – can we implement things because that has been a challenge for us in the Caribbean.”