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ECLAC makes progress on regional debt

Published: 
Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) subregional headquarters for the Caribbean has established a task force to advance ECLAC's Debt for Climate Adaptation Swap Initiative.

An ECLAC media release yesterday said the Debt Swap initiative, which was first presented at ECLAC's Caribbean Development Roundtable in Saint Kitts and Nevis early in 2016, is a mechanism intended to address at once the crippling debt of the Caribbean and their need to generate the resources needed to finance resilience building measures.

The Debt Swap task force was inaugurated at a meeting held at ECLAC's office in Port-of-Spain on November 24.

The meeting provided a forum for avid discussion among a group of key Caribbean institutions including the CARICOM Secretariat, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, the CARICOM Development Fund, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, as well as representatives from national institutions like the Planning Institute of Jamaica.

ECLAC's release stated: “It is an innovative strategy that involves harnessing concessionary flows to transform the debt of the region into a source of investment in resilience, while at the same time re-energizing growth and promoting economic transformation in the economies of the subregion, through investment in adaptation projects and green industries.”

ECLAC Caribbean Director, Diane Quarless, stressed that the devastating impact of the recent storms on many countries in the Caribbean demonstrated the premise of the ECLAC initiative that the high debt of the subregion is to a significant measure the result of the vulnerability of Caribbean countries to extreme climatic events.

The high levels of debt in Caribbean countries, many with debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratios in excess of 70 percent, the level considered unsustainable, has substantially narrowed the governments' fiscal space, stifling opportunities for investment and growth.

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