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Mar 1, 2016

Belize Joins 11 CARICOM Countries in Advancing Pro-growth Agenda

Even though there are economic differences, ministers from Caribbean countries have signed on to a development agenda. The agreement was signed today during a Caribbean Growth Forum held at the Radisson. The private sector and civil society from the Caribbean are looking for ways to exchange views on national reforms for sustainable growth. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports. 

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Twelve Caribbean countries, including Belize, have signed a joint communiqué to advance their pro-growth agenda.  The CARICOM member states, through the Caribbean Growth Forum, are renewing their commitment to sustainable and inclusive growth.  Sophie Sirtaine is the World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean.

 

Sophie Sirtaine, Country Director, Caribbean, World Bank

Sophie Sirtaine

“At the level of the country, we believe that dialogue between the different parts of society with government is fundamental to define and them monitor and implement reforms and that is because those, the users who benefit from the reforms are often well placed to help the government identify what needs to be done.  Secondly, why a regional initiative?  Mostly because while you have a lot of differences across the Caribbean you do have very similar problems around growth, especially today in an environment with lower commodity prices, even the countries that until now were doing very well in terms of growth are finding that it’s more difficult, so you do see a lot of common interest.”

 

Belize’s primary focus, as for its reason to participate in the regional initiative, is economic development.  The Caribbean Growth Forum provides a platform for private sector and civil society to share views on national reforms.  It also helps to follow the implementation of actions that are necessary to drive sustainable growth.

 

Tracy Taegar-Panton

Tracy Taegar-Panton, Minister of State, Economic Development

“The communiqué has been under discussions for the last six weeks as a phase two to the Caribbean Growth Forum which was launched three years ago.  It seeks to stimulate economic growth in the region and certainly in Belize.  Twelve countries, as you’ve said, have endorsed the communiqué in looking at how we can add new components to the reforms that we had discussed initially.  In the last three years it had become very clear to us that certainly access to affordable capital issues such as introducing more training and support for entrepreneurship and innovation are also critical areas in terms of growing our national economies.”

 

According to Sirtaine, there are certain advantages that come along with joint participation.

 

Sophie Sirtaine

“There are benefits, economies of scales that can be reached by working together, sharing knowledge and developing regional initiatives. Today what we have discussed with your government is the need to go further and to really, as I’ve said, unleash the potential, entrepreneurial, the innovative, the creative potential of your own people.  Going beyond setting up the environment for them to unleash this potential but really supporting them in doing so.  How?  By making sure that first they can access finance to support their own endeavors, their own investment, their own startups, their own ideas but also, if you want, by creating an ecosystem that would support the development of entrepreneurship and innovation.”

 

Tracy Taegar-Panton

“In the case of Belize, certainly all that we do is to ensure that we can improve the quality of life for Belizeans.  So this is not an academic exercise for us at all.  We have looked at the tax, we are currently looking at the tax reform agenda for Belize.  We have looked at land reform issues, we are looking at broadening our outreach for entrepreneurial development and for innovation.”

 

Isani Cayetano reporting for News Five.

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