Private sector can fill investment gaps in the Caribbean – President Ali

As the Caribbean continues to face severe financing challenges in achieving critical development goals, President, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali said increased investments from the private sector can fill the gap.

Highlighting the roughly US$61.5 billion in deposits parked in Caribbean commercial banks, the president emphasised the need for the region to devise strategies to tap into this capital.

President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali

The president said it should be channelled towards fresh wealth creation initiatives.

He made the assertion during his candid address at the Caribbean Investment Forum, held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, Liliendaal, on Wednesday.

President Ali urged the private sector and regional financial bodies, including the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), to explore these options.  

“It will be interesting for us to learn about the liquidity that exists in the private sector arm of the CDB. How have we grown that liquidity over the last ten years? How did we invest that liquidity over the last ten years, and how did we create the innovative approach of bringing the regional private sector together to make use of that liquidity?” the president said.

He highlighted several investment gaps that hinder the region’s capacity to meet Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include financial shortfalls in infrastructure, digitisation, and telecommunications.

President, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali flanked by Secretary-General of CARICOM, Dr Carla Barnett; Ambassador of the EU Delegation to Guyana, Rene Van Nes; Head of the Private Sector Division of the CDB, Lisa Harding, and Executive Director of the Caribbean Export Development Agency, Dr Damie Sinanan

According to the president, the region’s shortfalls in achieving these goals cannot be attributed to lack of willpower or commitment, but rather, a lack of adequate financing.

For context, he noted that an annual average of US$373 billion is required to improve water and sanitation systems.

Providing a breakdown of this point, the president explained, “New infrastructure requires allocations of US$256 billion; US$90.6 billion to improve access to safely managed drinking water, US$148 billion towards improving access to safely managed sanitation, and US$16.8 billion in sewerage treatment.”

Moreover, roughly US$577 billion is required to provide universal access to electricity and begin decarbonisation of the regional electricity generation mix.

These challenges have been further compounded by the devastating Hurricane Beryl, a category five storm which affected several Caribbean countries, wreaking unprecedented havoc across Grenada and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Some of the attendees at the Caribbean Investment Forum, which was held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre on Wednesday

And so, the president emphasised the urgency of initiating critical discussions on developing models for achieving regional SDGs.

These models, he stressed, must be   beneficial for the region’s sustainable development goals, as well as financially attractive to the private sector. The current reliance on solely state-funded investments, he stated, is nearing its end.

“We have to deploy private capital. We have to find the best model in deploying that capital to meet these financing gaps,” he stressed.

The Caribbean Investment Forum is hosted by the Caribbean Export Development Agency in collaboration with the Government of Guyana, the European Union, and the CARICOM Secretariat.

The three-day event will feature high-level discussions on sustainable agriculture, the transition to a green economy, and the digitalisation of business.

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