Rambarran urges IMF to tackle Caribbean debt

By Asha Javeed asha.javeed@trinidadexpress.com

Story Created: Oct 13, 2013 at 11:27 PM ECT

Story Updated: Oct 14, 2013 at 9:58 PM ECT

Central Bank Governor Jwala Rambarran has called on the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde to move quickly to address the debt challenges and low economic growth issues facing Caribbean countries.
Governor Rambarran made the call at the 2013 Caribbean Breakfast Meeting with Lagarde at the Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group International Monetary Fund, in Washington, DC yesterday morning.
Rambarran noted that, “In the coming year, we need to move from diagnosis to action, to advance on some of the most pressing financing and debt challenges facing the Caribbean region.”
As he underlined the urgency in dealing with the region’s debt, Rambarran said the IMF and the Caribbean needed to identify areas in which the Fund could be of assistance since most Caribbean small states continue to face debt burdens that are high or near distress levels. He is urged Lagarde and the IMF to work with the Caribbean to, “confront head on this high debt-low growth vicious circle.”
Rambarran commended the IMF for its increasing level of engagement in the region and praised the Fund for conducting a Caribbean-wide Financial Sector Assessment Programme (FSAP), which provides policy recommendations for strengthening financial stability across the region.
Rambarran drew Lagarde’s attention to a recent Commonwealth Secretariat study entitled A Time to Act: Addressing Commonwealth Small States’ Financing and Debt Challenges which makes four proposals for dealing with the Caribbean debt problem. He also encouraged the Fund to work together with the World Bank and the Commonwealth Secretariat to refine the proposals in the study into concrete and specific policy measures that can be applied to all small states.
Rambarran used the opportunity to make a case for the Fund’s employment of more Caribbean minds. He pointed out in recent years the number of Caribbean workers in the IMF declined and there is the perception of a weak recruitment will by the Fund in the region. Citing esteemed Caribbean intellects such as Sir Arthur Lewis and Lloyd Best, Rambarran said Caribbean people have the expertise to work at the Fund. He advised Lagarde to re-engage the Caribbean as it did decades ago, to actively recruit economists from the region and further efforts to strengthen their career progression and promotion at the Fund.
Rambarran invited Lagarde to visit the Caribbean to get a firsthand perspective and appreciation for the level of work being poured into economic development of the region.