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Caribbean countries list Energy Costs as Major Impediment to Growth

Leaders and financial officials from Caribbean countries and various multilateral groups at the IMF Forum in Montego Bay.


St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The high cost of energy and the effects on the growth of Caribbean economies was one of the main talking points at a High Level Caribbean Forum in Jamaica to discuss “Unlocking Economic Growth” in the region. The forum organized by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), held at the Montego Bay Convention Center, opened last week Thursday, with all of the speakers touching on the high cost of energy as the main impediment to economic growth.


President of the Caribbean Development Bank Dr. Warren Smith stressed that the Caribbean is not energy poor and must now look to harness its potentials in alternative energy. “The problem is tractable and it needs to be addressed and we need to move on it with a great sense of energy,” Dr. Smith said. “We might not have an abundance of fossil fuel all across our region but we have enough alternatives to be able to make a reasonable dent into the cost of our import bill,” he added.


Vice President of the World Bank Jorge Familiar said the region has a large renewable energy potential. “The region also has a large renewable energy potential. A recent World Bank study showed that seven Eastern Caribbean countries have potential for geothermal energy generation, which would help reduce costs for their oil-dependent electricity sector,” the World Bank Vice President said.


Prime Minister of Jamaica Portia Simpson Miller focused much of her remarks on the effort Jamaica is making to address high energy costs which she lists as the number one impediment to economic growth. “One area, which has been pursued in the past without success, is to replace our ageing and inefficient power generating units with more modern efficient ones, using a cheaper alternative to oil. Jamaica’s electricity has been based on oil for most of the history of the sector in Jamaica,” PM Simpson-Miller said. 


“However, our efforts have been affected by the inability to secure alternative fuels at competitive prices. We have also been affected by the lack of capacity to finance the build out of the necessary alternative fuel infrastructure. We determined that a new approach to securing new energy capacity using alternative fuels was necessary.”


Meantime, Jamaica’s minister of finance Dr. Peter Phillips called for a regional strategy in addressing energy costs as well as a uniformed tax policy across CARICOM. “That said, the international community appears, seemingly, oblivious to the fact that sustainable growth and development will not be possible without a coordinated global effort to assist the Caribbean region. There have been some signs of support, particularly as it relates to climate change and gender affairs, but far more is needed.  For example, a regional strategy for energy needs to be placed on the table,” Dr. Phillips said.


“It is also time that we in the Caribbean revisit the foundations of regional endeavours and arrangements.  It is time that we look at the current CARICOM taxation treaties and discuss the Common External Tariff.  Regionalism needs to not only induce growth but must be equitable.” 




Category/ies:Jamaica News, News, Regional News, St Kitts and Nevis News.
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