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Experts look at Caribbean debt burden

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Latin American and Caribbean Economic System (SELA) and the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) will hold a Meeting of Experts on debt burden in the Caribbean Region tomorrow in Port-of-Spain.


Permanent Secretary of SELA, Ambassador Roberto Guarnieri, underlined that the meeting will analyse the debt situation and policies for debt relief, focusing on differentiated approaches that respond to the particular characteristics of Caribbean economies.


The importance of the issue of debt burden or sustainability has been stressed repeatedly in various regional and global forums, including the Latin American Council of SELA, with particular emphasis on the situation of low and middle income countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. 


While the issue of debt has been marginalised at the regional level, mostly as a result of the positive impact of the most favourable external economic conditions and the greater macroeconomic discipline attained by the majority of countries since the 1990s and the beginning of the millennium, debt burden persists as one of the main problems being faced by the economies of the Caribbean subregion. 


Some Caribbean economies report a debt/GDP ratio of more than 60 per cent, revealing an almost unchanged fiscal vulnerability of this burden in terms of economic and social development for this group of countries, since debt burden has a major negative impact on economic growth. Although debt can be used as a tool to improve macroeconomic performance and promote welfare, excessive debt accumulation can lead to a fiscally-unsustainable situation, with severe negative effects on macroeconomic stability and economic growth. 


In addition, the per capita level has deprived most Caribbean countries of preferential solutions for debt relief, in particular the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative. The Meeting of Experts is intended to exchange experiences among the countries in the subregion as regards the subject of debt relief and disseminate information about this reality among countries and integration of organisations in Latin America and the Caribbean. 


Another objective of this meeting is to identify debt relief policies, particularly measures to promote investment and to spur economic growth. 


The conclusions and recommendations are expected to be of benefit for affected countries and of strategic importance for the other Member States. 


After the Meeting of Experts, the final report will be sent to the member states of SELA and relevant regional bodies, including the Association of Caribbean States.


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