The Caribbean Development Bank held its annual news conference at its headquarters in Barbados last week where the challenges faced in 2017 and the expected performance for its 19 Borrowing Member Countries (BMCs) for 2018 were discussed.
CDB Director of Economics, Dr Justin Ram explained that most BMCs experienced growth in 2017 but it was countries like Dominica who were among the five who suffered negative growth as a result of a deadly hurricane season.
“Five BMCs experienced negative growth in 2017. Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands and Dominica had the largest declines due to severe damaged caused by Hurricanes Maria and Irma,” he explained.
While the region experienced some level of success in 2017, including decrease in government debt and increased stay over visitors, it still continues to lag behind with major challenges including high debt, unemployment, low productivity and competitiveness and environmental vulnerability, Dr Ram said.
Negative growth in Dominica was estimated at of 6.4% due to Maria as the island lost 225% of GDP but the island’s economy is expected to grow by 6.9% this year as it rebuilds post the storm.
The bank is also positing a general upward trend for the region this year and Dominica is projected as one of the top performers.
“Considering the risks mentioned previously, we anticipate that the economies of all BMCs will grow in 2018. We expect the regional economy to grow by 2% compared with 0.6% in 2017,” he said.
Since the devastation wrought by the storm, the Government of Dominica has set in motion the goal of becoming the first climate resilient nation in the world. Considering the impact of environmental vulnerability of the region, the Caribbean Development Bank is also placing emphasis on building resilience by prioritising disaster risk management.
In an interview with GIS News following the conference, the economic director lauded Dominica for its goal of becoming the first climate resilient nation in the world and applauded government’s efforts to bring stability to the country's economy.