Last update: 11-Dec-2013 4:05 am
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
You are here
UK trade expert: CAF membership yields benefits for T&T
T&T’s entry into the Latin American Development Bank (CAF) will create greater business opportunities for this country and British companies. That is the view of Nigel Peters, director, UK Trade and Investment Business Services.
“From my business perspective it is great that the Government here decided to join as it is another layer of business opportunities for British companies working with T&T companies. The Government took a decision that they would obviously benefit from. CAF is reaching out to the Caribbean. Jamaica as I understand is a member and I think Suriname is also upgrading from associate member,” he said.
UK Trade and Investment Services helps British companies develop contacts and procure business services around the world. In an interview with the Sunday Guardian at the Hyatt Regency hotel, Port-of-Spain, Peters said CAF was reaching out to countries outside of the Andean region of South America.
“In the Caribbean it has been a new area of the bank to get members. T&T was an associate member for a while and could not receive developmental loans. But October last year, the Government here took the decision to become a full member. Therefore the new Director of CAF arrived last month and they are setting up office and recruiting local staff and will be engaging in a dialogue with the Government here with potential projects for CAF funding,” he said.
Peters said CAF’s credibility as a multilateral lending agency is growing: “Obviously the Government, because they are borrowing the money, will have the say. It is a dialogue with CAF. Traditionally CAF focuses on infrastructure, transportation projects, it could be power projects or social infrastructure projects like health, care and education.
“CAF is bank that is growing quickly and is the fastest growing of the multilateral development banks. They have a very quick turnaround of projects. When a government asks CAF to fund, they work in very short timetables.” He said CAF does business differently to other lending agencies and their business model is slightly different.
“They ask the recipient country to handle all of the procurement side of the project according to the national procurement legislation. All they ask is that the procurement is open to any company from around the world. But other than that they are quite hands off. The difference with the Inter American Development Bank (IDB) and the Caribbean Development (CDB) is that they have their own procurement rules which can in some ways make the process longer,” Peters said.
Peters said once T&T accesses these international loans, British companies want the opportunity to work with locals to offer their skills on different projects. “The Government of T&T will make their decision as to what development banks they will work with and negotiate loans. My role working with British High Commission here is to look at the projects that will be funded and see if we could identify business opportunities for UK companies. Of course we need to find local partners in T&T,” he said.
He highlighted the importance of Public Private Partnerships (PPP) which will result in partnerships between governments and the private sector on projects. “I think it is an interesting debate about PPP’s. The UK was the first country in the world for what we recognise as PPP. We introduced this system in the 1980s and because we were the pioneers in this we did by far the largest number of PPP projects and learnt a lot of lessons,” Peters said. He revealed that he met officials from the new PPP unit at the Ministry of Finance.
“I understand in T&T that over the years you have financed the odd projects in PPP. There is a new PP unit in the Ministry of Finance and I met officials from there. They are now working with the IDB to establish a central unit which will prioritise projects and they are taking a long list of projects and aiming to do projects, one on healthcare and one in education. We will follow those closely,” he said. Peters is of the view that PPP projects use public funds more efficiently.
“Every country in the world wants to build more infrastructure. PPP’s are important as it is argued that it is a more efficient use public resources. Every government, to get re-elected, wants to build infrastructure. It is a way of getting the private sector to invest with the government in projects that would have been 100 per cent publicly funded,” he explained. Peters said T&T’s small size is not important and the PPP model will contribute to the country’s development.
“I think the people of T&T want good infrastructure. They want hospitals, schools and roads. They want water supply. The Government wants to deliver those services to the people. PPP is not the only model, but it works,” he said.
History of T&T and CAF
In April 2012, Prime Mininster, Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Enrique García, president and CEO of CAF, signed an agreement for T&T’s full membership of the financial institution.
During the ceremony, held during the VI Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, Persad-Bissessar said the signing was valuable since it “will open permanent access for Trinidad and Tobago to long-term finance and technical co-operation for sustainable development”. She said it will also “provide an opportunity to strengthen South-South co-operation, open new markets and promote the country’s presence at regional level.”
Since joining as a shareholder in 1994, T&T has strengthened its relations with CAF. TAmendment of the CAF Establishing Agreement in 2008 opened the way for full membership of all Latin American and Caribbean countries with the same rights as the founding partners. Currently, of the 18 CAF member countries, the full shareholders are Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela, now joined by T&T.
With that signing in 2012, the paid-in capital of T&T in CAF was raised to US$332.4 million.
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.