`No time for timidity'
-- warns CDB President By Rickey Singh
Guyana Chronicle
May 19, 2002

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BRIDGETOWN -- The President of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Dr. Compton Bourne, has warned that as Caribbean peoples "struggle against the odds", this was "no time for conservatism, inertia or timidity".

Back home in Barbados from last week's two-day 32nd Annual Board of Governors Meeting of the CDB, Bourne, in alluding to the rising challenges facing the region's future development, emphasised:

"The creativity, ingenuity and innovativeness which characterised the historical progress of the Caribbean peoples struggling against the odds, is needed now no less than it ever was before".

Head of the regional multilateral financial institution for just 13 months, having succeeded the retired Sir Neville Nicholls of Barbados, Guyana-born Bourne, recently awarded with Guyana's highest honour, the 'Order of Excellence', feels that the CDB is in a position to "make a valuable contribution" in building the business representational capacity of government and quasi-government bodies in fostering regional social and economic development.

Last year, the CDB disbursed some US$112M in loans and grants to its 17 borrowing member countries (BMCs) of the anglophone region, or about eight per cent greater than in 2000.

Following the September 11 terrorist strikes against the USA last year and the negative impact on regional economies, the CDB initiated short-term adjustments in financial assistance to its borrowing members by fast-tracking pipeline projects and introducing special measures to reduce borrowing costs.

The bank also established last December a counterpart loan financing facility valued at US$50M to enable countries to make their contributions to the Regional Tourism Emergency Programme, in addition to a reduction in loan rates of interest from 6.9 per cent to 5.75 per cent effective from January this year.

Bourne has also spoken of the CDB's preparation of a post-September 11 Emergency Economic Reconstruction Programme (ERP), resulting in part from broad-based national consultations and in cooperation with the Inter-American Development Bank. The bank expects to have some US$124M to disburse over a five-year period under the ERP initiative.

In an overview of the role of the CDB in national/regional development, Bourne, formerly Principal of the University of the West Indies (St. Augustine Campus), had shared at the bank's Board of Governors meeting his own assessment of the changes in concepts and functions that were necessary to respond to today's demands for institutional development support:

As he sees it, the CDB President said it is a fundamental part of the mission of regional and sub-regional development banks to seek to build the capacity of domestic enterprises.

Over the years, he said, they have interpreted this to mean the financing of capital investment in plant and equipment.

However, "enterprise capacity is more complexly dimensioned than attention to productive inputs only would suggest", he added, suggesting that development banks incorporate "the broader perspective" in their operations.

Bourne has promised that the CDB will give consideration to "capacity creation" within the region's financial sector as a component of its overall strategy for building enterprise capacity.

He also feels that the bank should support investments in operating systems as well as managerial systems in financing institutions with a view to reducing lender and borrower transactions costs.

Encouragement and support for the establishment of small business finance and micro-finance institutions are also matters he wants the CDB to address with a sense of urgency.