Monthly Archives: May 2012

Saint Lucia Culinary Team Gala Fundraising Dinner

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The Saint Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association (SLHTA) is pleased to inform you of our preparations to participate in this year’s Taste of the Caribbean Culinary Competition to be held in Miami on June 20-24, 2012.  As part of our selection process, a Cook-Off was staged at the Sandals Grande Resort and Spa in February 2012. We are pleased to advise that eight Chefs representing Sandals Resorts, Cap Maison, The Landings, Jade Mountain, Coconut Bay, The BodyHoliday at LeSport, Windjammer Landing and Fire Grill respectively were selected to form the Saint Luca Culinary Team (SLUCT)and represent the island. This Competition provides education and inspiration for our local chefs through seminars, workshops, tastings and demonstrations, created to enhance performance, style and profitability in their food and beverage operations.

Our participation in the Competition requires a focused preparatory process as well as adequate financial resources to enable the team to give its best effort. We have planned a series of dinners that would allow the team to receive critical feedback and inputs from patrons, while progressively honing their competitive skills.  The purpose of these organized dinners is to also display the exquisite culinary skills of our eight young chefs and bartender, and to showcase their unique individual talents, whilst also generating funds for their travel expenses. SLHTA and the SLUCT will be hosting its third Saint Lucia Culinary Team Fund Raising Dinner at The Edge Restaurant, on Saturday, June 02, 2012 at 7 pm.

Feedback from our previous dinners and road-shows has been outstanding, supportive and a few encore presentations have been requested for certain venues. Although the team still has a tedious task ahead in order of becoming the gold champions, they are committed to succeeding and determined to improve.

Tickets are available for EC $125 per person. Dinner will comprise of a three course menu and will be served with 4 specialty cocktail drinks and wine. Reserve your tickets now, availability is limited to forty. For reservations please contact Ms. Zina Zita Haynes at; 452-5978/ 453-1811 or zina.haynes@slhta.org.

Free night with Forever Summer at The Jalousie Plantation, Sugar Beach, St Lucia

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Nestled in the embraced of St Lucia’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed Pitons, the Jalousie Plantation, Sugar Beach is the ideal place to while away the warm summer nights. And now, with Forever Summer you can keep Autumn at bay with a complimentary night and a host of other special package additions.

Guests staying for six nights will enjoy the seventh night free, as well as complimentary daily breakfast for two adults, and a three hour sailing experience on the crystal waters of the Caribbean.

In addition, guests have the choice of a couple’s beach massage, or two beach dives (introductory or regular) per stay.

Round trip airport transfers for two from Hewanorra International Airport are also included in the package which is available for bookings in Jalousie’s Luxury Cottage category or higher.

Rates start at US$403 per night excluding 8% government tax and 10% service charge

Valid for travel from now until September 10, 2012. Book before August 31, 2012.

For more information and bookings, contact your travel advisor or The Jalousie Plantation, Sugar Beach on telephone +1 758 456 8000 or check out www.thejalousieplantation.

Editor’s Notes

About Viceroy Hotel Group

Viceroy Hotel Group delivers one-of-a-kind lifestyle experiences that bring together provocative design and intuitive service in sought-after locations. Signature brand amenities and services created for the diverse business and leisure guests include dynamic dining venues featuring world-class culinary talents and destination spas specializing in health, fitness and beauty. Current properties include hotels and resorts in Abu Dhabi, Anguilla, Beverly Hills, Maldives, Miami, New York, Palm Springs, Riviera Maya, San Francisco, Santa Monica, Snowmass, St Lucia and Zihuatanejo with a forthcoming opening in Bodrum, Turkey.

About The Jalousie Plantation, Sugar Beach

The Jalousie Plantation, Sugar Beach is nearing the end of a multi-million dollar enhancement project that has already seen the construction of new rooms, villas and luxury beachfront bungalows. Two new bars (The Cane Bar & Late Night Bar) and two new restaurants (The Great Room & Bayside) have also been developed along with the world class Rainforest Spa complete with tree house treatment rooms.

These new amenities, coupled with full PADI dive facilities right on the beach, and clear enhancements in service standards, make The Jalousie Plantation, Sugar Beach an attractive vacation destination which is getting better by the day. The Jalousie Plantation, Sugar Beach continues to offer the ultimate vacation experience in one of the world’s most stunning locations.

For more information and rates, contact The Jalousie Plantation on tel +1 758 456 8000 or email reservations@thejalousieplantation.com / www.thejalousieplantation.com

Press Contact:  Molly McDaniel, PR Director, The Jalousie Plantation Sugar Beach

Cell: +1 758 485 1464, Tel/fax: +1 758 458 0931

Email: molly@thejalousieplantation.com

Real Estate:  Also available at Sugar Beach are a range of stunning, architect designed three to six bedroom Residences with full service kitchens, hardwood flooring, infinity pools and expansive outdoor living areas. Owners can take advantage of full access to resort facilities, including butler service and optional housekeeping, private catering and yacht charter. Property management and rental services are available through the resort. Prices from US$2,400,000 to US$9,000,000. www.residencessugarbeach.com.

Contact Penny Strawson: +1 (758) 285 4181; penny.strawson@residencessugarbeach.com

Molly McDaniel Director of PR / Associate Director of Sales and Marketing

The Jalousie Plantation, Sugar Beach

Val des Pitons

P.O Box 251

Soufriere, Saint Lucia

www.thejalousieplantation.com

T. (758) 456 8000

D. (758) 456 8044

M. (758) 485 1464

F. (758) 459 7667

Molly@thejalousieplantation.com

“Condé Nast Traveler, Best in the World 2011 Readers’ Choice Awards, Caribbean”

“Travel + Leisure “World’s Best Awards 2011″ Featured in Caribbean’s World’s Best Debut”

“Condé Nast Traveler Gold List 2011 Readers’ Selection of “best places to stay in the World”

“Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Travel Awards 2010 Winner of “Favorite Leisure Hotel, The Americas & the Caribbean”

Winner of “Best International Property” at the International Property Awards 2010 in association with Bloomberg Television

www.residencessugarbeach.com

May update raises forecast for 2012 hurricane season

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Wednesday May 30, 2012 – The good news  is that the latest forecast for the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season is close to  the long-term norm.  The not-so-good-news is that the May prediction has  been revised upward, calling for slightly more activity than was forecast in  April.
Tropical Storm Risk (TSR), which provides real-time mapping and  prediction of tropical cyclone windfields worldwide, has released its pre-season  outlook for the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, running from 1 June to 30  November.
The outlook anticipates Atlantic basin and United States  landfalling hurricane activity being close to their long-term (1950-2010) norm  values but 10-40% below their norm values for the last 10-years  (2002-2011).
TSR, part of Aon Benfield Research’s academic and industry  collaboration, slightly raised its April forecast. The pre-season outlook now  includes:
•    A 34% probability of an above-normal  Atlantic hurricane season, a 36% probability of a near-normal season, and a 30%  chance of a below-normal season. •    13 tropical storms  including six hurricanes and three intense hurricanes. This compares to  long-term norms of 11, six and three respectively. •    An ACE  (Accumulated Cyclone Energy) value of 98. The long-term norm is 103.

For U.S. landfalling activity referenced to long-term norm values, TSR  forecasts:
•    A 48% probability of above-normal U.S.  landfalling hurricane activity; a 26% likelihood of a near-normal season, and a  26% chance of a below-normal season. •    Four tropical storm  strikes on the U.S., including two hurricanes. This compares to long-term norms  of three and 1.5 respectively.
Three main climate factors will determine  the level of hurricane activity in the Atlantic basin. Occurring in August and  September, these are the speed of trade winds over the tropical North Atlantic,  sea temperatures in the tropical North Atlantic, and the sign and strength of El  Nino Southern Oscillation.
U.S. landfalling hurricane activity is  influenced by July tropospheric wind patterns over the North Atlantic and U.S.,  and by the level of hurricane activity occurring at sea.
Professor Mark  Saunders at Tropical Storm Risk, said: “At present the main climate indicators  point to the 2012 hurricane season being close to norm. However, uncertainties  remain and we are overdue US landfalling hurricane strikes. Only one hurricane  (Irene) has struck the US in the last 3 years and no major hurricane has struck  the US since Wilma in 2005. On average 4 or 5 landfalling hurricanes would  strike the US in 3 years and 4 major hurricanes would strike over 6 years.  Nature has a habit of correcting herself.”
Despite the success of recent  basin forecasts, sources of uncertainty remain. Model projections of ENSO (El  Nino Southern Oscillation) conditions for August-September currently show a  range from neutral to moderate.
There is uncertainty in how warm the  tropical North Atlantic Ocean will be in August-September. Also variance exists  in the level of basin hurricane activity possible from the same August-September  climate factors and, as seen in recent years, even larger variance exists in the  level of US landfalling hurricane activity possible from the same basin  activity.

The 2012 Atlantic hurricane season was jump-started on May 19 with the  formation of Tropical Storm Alberto east-southeast of Charleston, South  Carolina.  Alberto posed no threat to the Caribbean.

Read more: http://www.caribbean360.com/index.php/news/581304.html?utm_source=Caribbean360+Newsletters&utm_campaign=a247ad422c-Vol_7_Issue_57_News5_30_2012&utm_medium=email#ixzz1wPJlKY8Y

Statement by Chairman of CDF on the Planning and Production of Carnival 2012

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Statement by Chairman of CDF on The Planning and Production of Carnival 2012

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The present Board of the CDF, at its first meeting on April 4th, 2012 resolved to do all in its power to avoid the unnecessary miscommunication, confusion and controversy that marred what was otherwise an excellent carnival 2011. The Board resolved to do all it could to ensure that a harmonious working relationship would exist between the CDF and any group identified by Government to produce the major events for Carnival 2012.

By Cabinet Conclusion No.235 dated 30th April 2012, Cabinet approved the establishment of a committee consisting of principal stakeholders in carnival and empowered that team to plan and produce carnival. CDF welcomes the establishment of the Committee, and true to the sentiment expressed at its first board meeting, has set the stage for a true collaboration and conflict-free process between the Foundation and the Committee.

The Chairperson of the Foundation,  Petrus Compton, and the Committee,  John Joseph held an inaugural meeting on May 15th and agreed a series of measures designed to make Carnival 2012 a great production success. These included acknowledging the Committee as the principal agency in the planning and production of the carnival events, agreeing the exact terms of CDF’s support for the Committee, establishing clear lines of communication between the two bodies and agreeing on an approach with respect to the financial accountability of the Committee.

These decisions will ensure that all actors in the carnival scenario will be singing from the same song sheet and decision making will be greatly enhanced. CDF wishes to make it clear, therefore, that the CDF is NOT the body responsible for the planning and production of Carnival 2012. CDF is a part of the planning and production team, and an important part, given its history, institutional strength and experience, but responsibility for decision making and execution of decisions rests with the Committee.

Nevertheless, mindful of its statutory obligations, CDF will continue to provide leadership in respect of the developmental aspects of carnival generally. New ideas for cultural activities based around carnival will continue to be developed and the training of persons in the arts connected to carnival will be developed even further. CDF will continue to focus on shaping the overall development of the artistic, cultural and social dimensions of the carnival phenomenon, thereby ensuring that our carnival activities will continue to grow stronger, be more diversified and embrace more of our people. CDF will pay special attention to working with communities outside Castries to help them develop their carnival activities and strengthen their capacity to design, plan and produce high quality activities which will have a positive impact on economic activity in these areas.

Consistent with the sentiment that the production of this carnival should be as conflict-free as possible, the CDF has made available to the Committee the services of its Marketing Officer, who, under the guidance and instructions of the Chairman, John Joseph, will liaise with the media with regards to developments pertaining to Carnival 2012. We ask the media to note, and respect, this arrangement and direct all queries and requests for information to the Chair of the Committee and the Committee’s PR team.

CDF believes that this arrangement will conduce to a carnival free of friction and rancor and begin paving the way towards the creation of a Carnival or Festivals Commission, consistent with Government’s stated desire.

Thank you.

Petrus Compton

Your Future is Now

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(May 30, 2012) Yesterday, Tuesday May 29, 2012, one hundred and thirty nine (139) trainees of the first OECS Skills for Inclusive Growth project graduated with National and Caribbean Vocational Qualifications in the Construction and Hospitality Sectors.

The graduates were briefly addressed by Prime Minister Kenny D. Anthony who expressed his pleasure and delight at attending the ceremony. Dr Anthony told the graduates that the moment was special because the project was conceptualized and developed during his previous tenure.

Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Kenny D. Anthony reflected on the rationale for this project, citing the reality of the introduction of competition on the job market as a result of the CSME and other such initiatives. Dr. Anthony stated,

“The OECS Skills for Inclusive Growth Project was conceptualized to provide certification for our population so that they may be able to access opportunities throughout the OECS and CARICOM through their recognized skills…what is important in today’s global reality is the employability and mobility of our youth to participate in the ubiquitous opportunities that exist around the world. It is envisaged that through this programme, our youth will be encouraged to see the world in a more friendly light – no longer needing conflict to solve their problems, but using their skills and knowledge to enhance and upgrade themselves.”

Prime Minister Anthony applauded the graduates and urged them to continue to believe in themselves and the possibilities that the future holds. He stressed the importance of maintaining a high standard, as this would undoubtedly increase their marketability and growth.

The Prime Minister also sounded a note of praise to the staff, training providers and all employers involved in the traineeship and permanent placements, for their dedication and hard work, which contributed to the success of a vision to prepare the skilled sector for today’s global reality.

Flower Festivals: To Bloom or Die?

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“Soukou, Soukou; mayday, mayday, mayday!” was the cry on Saturday May 26th, as the Cultural Development Foundation (CDF) convened a consultation to rescue Saint Lucia’s flower festivals. The call was answered by members of La Rose and La Marguerite groups that, in the end, still seem to favour heavier involvement of CDF and the church for their survival.

Despite the attendance of Governor General Dame Pearlette Louisy, Monsignor Patrick A.B. Anthony, and other prominent persons in the cultural sphere, it was clear that the festivals lacked the most important source of support – the people who have been its lifeblood for centuries. The flower festivals have slowly dwindled and the consultation sought the input of those involved to resuscitate the tradition and guide this year’s celebrations.

Floral societies have their roots set in Africa and the current musical rivalry, cloaked under the display of a mock administration (from the royal family to army, health service, etc.), expressed the desire and capacity of slaves for self-governance.  With a known history dating from the 1700s, Monsignor Anthony (PABA) explained, Saint Lucia’s two flower festivals evolved with the participation of the Catholic Church.

The eventual ‘excommunication’ from the church due to the all too real violence that accompanied the enmity of these mock courts, saw further changes, which PABA suggests is partly responsible for the decline in popularity. Social attitudes, shifts in religious denominations, lack of cultural identity, and modern technology were posited as having had further negative impact.

With only nine La Rose and four La Marguerite groups left on the island, it is clear that something must be done. Says CDF Cultural Field Officer George ‘Fish’ Alphonse, “Sometimes I think we are celebrating something we do not understand. Now is the time. Now is the time to intervene, or else ‘bal fini’.”

Barbara Duboulay, CDF’s Programmes Coordinator (Schools) says the need is for greater involvement of young people. She was supported by Kentillia Louis, Curriculum Officer for Secondary Schools, who noted the resistance in incorporating the Flower Festivals in schools.

Dame Pearlette, formerly lecturer and principal of Sir Arthur Lewis Community College, insists that sensitisation must start at the Teachers Training College. If teachers do not know or are even passionate about the island’s culture she insists, the effort in schools will continue to be met with little success.

Members of the groups also cited what, in their observations, have contributed to the floral societies decline. Among the causes were competition from mothers’ and fathers’ groups, conflict with the school schedule, lack of knowledge of and interest from the media, the lack and inadequate distribution of resources – financial and human, lack of access to new media and technologies, lack of documentation, the disinterest of youth and the refusal of master chantwѐls and musicians to share their knowledge and skills.

The change in date of carnival, which has it running almost neck and neck with the flower festivals, was also stated as a major challenge by all present. This impacts the preparation time, and divides the attention of sponsors, the media and the public.

The solutions presented at the end of the day seemed to only mirror what was stated by Monsignor Anthony and panellists Bernard Fanis, Agatha Jn. Panel and Frank Norville. This raised the question that if the solutions are so obvious, why has there not been greater progress.

Steps forward included better documentation of the flower festivals, the establishment of a cultural academy to pass on the knowledge and passion for the traditional arts, increased subventions and review of the policy for disbursement of funds from government, improved collaboration of the media, utilisation of new media, increasing engagement of schools, more participation from the church and community volunteers, targeted research on the needs and challenges of different floral societies and greater peer support among the floral societies.

Monsignor Anthony cited works by the likes of Barbara Cadet, Ronald ‘Boo’ Hinkson, Charles Cadet, Derek and Roderick Walcott, Dunstan St. Omer, MacDonald Dixon, Luther Francois and John Robert Lee, which he said has laid a path of cultural engineering of the traditional arts. This he says, makes traditional art forms more accessible to a wider audience and is necessary for their survival.

That cultural cannot depend solely on government was hinted at by the notable absence of Lorne Theophilus; Minister for Tourism, Heritage and the Creative Industries. However the CDF has undertaken to explore various means to reverse the slow decline in the La Rose and La Marguerite festivals, expressions that developed in the creole context and are representative of our national identity.

Police Officer Charged for Accusing Harm and Discharging Firearm in Public

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On Wednesday 23rd May 2012 Mattis La Corbiniere, Police Constable 314 attached to the Laborie Police Station was arrested and charged for causing Grievous Harm to Charles Wilson of Monchy and for discharging a firearm in a public place.

The incident occurred on the 1st of January 2012 at Rodney Bay during the “Ole Year’s Night” activity.

He was taken before the court on Thursday 24th May 2012 where he was bailed $3000 for the offense of Grievous Harm and $1500 for the offense of discharging firearm in a public place.

He is to reappear before the court on Thursday14th June 2012 to answer to those charges

ENDS

For further information contact the RSLPF Public Relations Office: Tel: 456-3726/7, or Fax 456-3728. Email public_relations@rslpf.com

Three young men left nursing gunshot wounds

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On Sunday 28th May 2012 about 9:10 pm, Officers attached to the Marchand Police Station responded to a shooting incident at the Marchand Boulvard,

Information received indicates that 27 year old Shervon Ramsey, 17 year old Aldrick Alexander Aka Play and 18 year old Osazie Charles Aka Shatta were standing in the vicinity of the Marchand Boulvard when three armed masked men fired several shots in their direction hitting them about the body.

All three men were taken to Victoria Hospital where they were treated for gunshot wounds. Shervon Ramsey is said to be in critical condition whilst Aldrick Alexander and Osazie Charles are in stable condition.

No one has been arrested in relation to this incident but the police are actively pursuing leads.

ENDS

For further information contact the RSLPF Public Relations Office: Tel: 456-3726/7, or Fax 456-3728. Email public_relations@rslpf.com

A St. Lucian Raising Star

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Sanovnik Destang

The Caribbean Hotel & Resort Investment Summit (CHRIS) took place on May 7-8, 2012, at the JW Marriott Marquis Miami hotel in Miami, Florida, USA. The mood was decidedly more upbeat than the past several years and the conference attracted approximately 300 investment community leaders.

Maxence Bonnamain, Director of Las Casitas Villages at the El Conquistador Resort in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, was presented the Rising Star Award at the luncheon on May 8, 2012. Finalists in the category also included Sanovnik Destang, Assistant Managing Director, Director of Finance at Bay Gardens Resorts; Paula De Marchena González, Director of Human Resources at Hilton Santo Domingo; and Erika Melendez, Assistant Director of Human Resources at Caribe Hilton Hotel.

The Rising Star Award was created by the International Society of Hospitality Consultants (ISHC), in collaboration with BHN, to celebrate the excellence of young emerging leaders in the hospitality industry and to reward an outstanding individual each year with the Rising Star Award. The candidate must be under 35 years of age, currently work in a hospitality-related field, be living and working in the Caribbean, and be recognized by leaders of his or her own hotel or organization as a rising star.

“Walking a Tight Rope Between Stimulation and Financial Prudence”

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Statement by Dr. The Honourable Kenny D Anthony

Governor for Saint Lucia Dr. Kenny D. Anthonhy

Governor for Saint Lucia to the Forty-Second Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the Caribbean Development Bank

“Walking a Tight Rope Between Stimulation and Financial Prudence”

A Test for the Future

In a previous incarnation, I served as Prime Minister and Minister of Finance in Saint Lucia for some nine and a half years.  I am therefore curious to find out what has changed in the years of my purgatory.

Sadly, I have returned to find some of the old problems of the past.  Some of these problems seem to defy solutions and repeat themselves as recurring decimals on our financial landscape.

But some things have changed.  We now seek to survive or cope, as the case may be, in a financial crisis of unprecedented magnitude.  Perhaps, for the very first time since the establishment of the Bank, we have an opportunity to measure the Bank, to test its rules, practices and procedures against a crisis of untold severity.

Through no fault of our own, we find ourselves in the aftershock of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.  Most of our economies are burdened with high unemployment, high fiscal deficits, high debt ratios, nagging inflation and persistent poverty.  Yet, we are not bereft of ingenuity.  Our challenge remains to findviable solutions, both individually at the country level and collectively within the CDB family.

Saint Lucia: Performance and Prospects

Chairman, despite the comparative resilience of Saint Lucia, economic expansion has been slow in recent years.  We experienced sluggish growth of 1.0 percent in 2011, following an even lower rate of 0.6 percent in 2010.

Tourism, in terms of both the number of visitors and their spending in the local economy, contracted in 2011 by 3.9 percent and 7.4 percent respectively.  In agriculture, banana production fell by 55 percent owing to the impact of Hurricane Tomas, rising input costs, loss of farmer confidence, limited access to affordable finance and the outbreak of Black Sigatoka.  Production of non-banana crops rose, but the performance of the livestock subsector was mixed.  Construction and manufacturing activity grew modestly by 2.1 percent and 1.6 percent respectively.

The fiscal operations of the government deteriorated sharply in 2011/2012, with significant growth in capital spending of 34.8 percent leading to record capital expenditure and giving rise to a widening of the overall fiscal deficit.  As a consequence, the total debt to GDP ratio rose from 62.2 percent at the end of 2010 to 68.5 percent at the end of 2011.

Given our recent performance and the current state of the Saint Lucia economy, we have identified three strategic priorities for economic recovery:-

  • Creating jobs which we intend to achieve through the implementation of short to medium term projects and measures that will stimulate the productive sectors, while providing essential support for the government’s social agenda;
  • Expanding construction activity with targeted measures designed to encourage investment in housing and construction, which will restore the social and economic infrastructure of the country and have the knock-on effect of creating additional jobs in a virtuous circle;
  • Consolidating government’s fiscal account by implementing measures to improve the revenue base, reduce the deficit and strengthen government finances.

One of our major initiatives this year is the introduction of Value Added Tax aimed at expanding the tax base, improving the efficiency of tax collections, reducing the burden on the productive sectors, encouraging investment and providing a more equitable and robust environment for economic growth.

I have presented a synopsis of Saint Lucia’s economic performance in order to indicate the magnitude of the task facing us as well as the main elements of our plan for economic recovery, and to outlineour expectations of CDB with respect to improving its effectiveness.

CDB is the main development finance institution in the Region and as our economic and social programmes unfold, we expect the Bank to evolve, become more flexible, attend to the development imperatives facing us and improve its delivery mechanisms.

The Bank did some things well in 2011 and in recent years, but there are also key areas in need of attention.

CDB: Performance and Future Direction

 

In keeping with the recession and its prolonged effect on member countries, the recent performance of CDB, perhaps understandably, has been modest. Yet, precisely because of the role of CDB as a development bank, it must find creative strategies for intervening effectively when its borrowing members are affected by adversity.  During crises it must be more, not less responsive.  Approvals of loans, grants and equity in 2011 were just 55.4 percent of the amount approved in 2010, while disbursements in 2011 amounted to 51.3 percent of the level in 2010.

The economic downturn which spread to most of the region within the last two years, undoubtedly had an adverse effect on the demand for the resources of CDB in 2011.  However, a more proactive approach by the Bank in devising creative ways to make resources available to its borrowing members for development, engaging the countries more effectively in designing recovery strategies and improving its procurement and delivery mechanisms, might have been helpful.  The Bank must make every attempt to develop more effective strategiesin order to maintain the growth momentum of its members, achieved in the years preceding the recession.

While we support the Policy-based Intervention of the Bank through its Policy-based Loan programme, it is necessary to raise the commitment ceiling and authorize  the Bank to extend the programme.  Under the programme, loans are approved and their progress monitored once a mutually acceptable mix of policy actions is agreed between the Bank and the country concerned.  Given the new economic reality following the global recession, and despite the recent review by CDB, it is necessary to explore the feasibility of making the programme more flexible in the kinds of policy action required, as well as in their timing.

Loans approved in 2011 amounted to just 53.5 percent of the amount in 2010, while disbursements in 2011 were 48.0 percent of the 2010 figure.  What is instructive is that lending to the public sector in 2011 accounted for allof the loans.  The failure of CDB to engage effectively with the private sector which accounts for the largest share of economic activity in our Region, is a matter of grave concern.  This is one of the recurring decimals to which I referred to in my introductory remarks.  The Bank must address this deficiency going forward.

On the other hand, the Bank must be commended for making steady progress in some of its longer term initiatives, including those associated with:

  • Catastrophe Risk Insurance for Micro-enterprise;
  • Facilitating access by micro, small and medium enterprises to technical assistance through the Caribbean Technological Consultancy Services Network (CTCS);
  • The Caribbean Aid for Trade Project (CARTFund);
  • Helping to reduce poverty through the Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF) which focused on the inclusive development of rural and under-served communities in 2011; and
  • Improving the application of Gender Equity modalities as a cross-cutting theme.

Response to Disaster

 

Mr. Chairman, I want now to turn my attention, albeit briefly, to the issue of the Bank’s response to disasters and natural calamities.

We live in an earthquake and hurricane zone and must pay close attention to disaster risk management, mitigating the effects of climate change, disaster rehabilitation and developing strategies for environmental sustainability.  In general, the programmes and interventions of CDB in this regard, are commendable, particularly in the area of direct disaster rehabilitation on which US$72.7 million were approved for the Region in 2011.

It would be remiss of me if I did not express my gratitude and that of all Saint Lucians to the Bank, for the loan of US$17.96 million to assist in financing the reconstruction and rehabilitation of infrastructure, following the passage of Hurricane Tomas.

However, it is imperative that CDB responds much more quickly to the needs of its members, particularly in the aftermath of natural disasters.  The interruption to economic life can be abrupt and catastrophic and countries simply cannot wait for lengthy periods to commence reconstruction.  The Bank must re-examine its procurement and other approval, disbursement and delivery mechanisms, if it is to provide timely and relevant assistance to countries following natural disasters.  Nothing short of a new regime governing the approval process for reconstruction and rehabilitation to address the fallout from natural disasters will do.  I intend to recommend to international organizations which provide resources for post-disaster relief and rehabilitation, that they undertake similar reforms.

In that context, Mr. Chairman, we continue to sympathize with Haiti.  In its drive to eliminate poverty and put the economy on the path to sustained growth, Haiti continues to face special challenges which have been compounded by the effects of the recent earthquake.  We support the suite of projects designed with the direct assistance of international donorsto target poor communities, the fledgling business sector, catastrophe insurance and the economy as a whole.

CDB’s Credit Rating

Chairman, we have come to rely on the financial and operational strength of CDB over the years.  As the Regional economy recovers and economic growth gathers pace, it is important that the Bank remain a cornerstone of our development.

The Bank has, for many years, maintained an international credit rating of “Triple A” with Moody’s Investment Service and Standard and Poors.We are, understandably, very concerned by the downgrading of the Bank by Moody’s to “Aa1” with a negative outlook, earlier this month.

Some of the underlying reasons for the downgrade were somewhat surprising.  The reliance in recent years on borrowing with bullet maturities,has evidently caused the payment profile of the Bank’s debt to be heavily front loaded, thereby increasing its exposure to refinancing risk.  In addition, the Bank’s non-compliance with its own liquidity policy for the last five years, is a matter of great concern.  The inevitable question is this: Were Directors and Governors explicitly informed?

In the opinion of Moody’s, those shortcomings are inconsistent with the standards associated with “Triple A” rated banks and reflect deficiencies in the management of the Bank’s assets and liabilities and in its financial planning.

On the positive side, CDB’s ability to service its debt in a timely manner appears not to have been compromised. Nevertheless, the Bank must move quickly to create a dedicated risk management function, adopt comprehensive asset-liability management policies and carry out other necessary reforms to ensure that all its fundamentals get back on track and are sustained.

Other areas underlying the downgrade are CDB’s weak capital adequacy ratio despite the recent general capital increase, and the high degree of risk associated with its 55 percent loan concentration in its four top borrowers.  The Bank must examine all available strategies to address those concerns with the relevant stakeholders, including its non-borrowing and borrowing members.

The Bank must make every effort to stabilize and prevent further erosion in its credit rating, reverse the negative outlook and return to the higher rating threshold.

Conclusion

These continue to be trying times and there are few signs of positive change in the near future.  The Bank, like member countries, must become adept at walking a tightrope between flexibility, expansion, financial stimulation of the economy and social support on the one hand, and financial prudence, forbearance and economizing on the other.  It is not one or the other, but both, with judicious sequencing and with the active involvement of the people and institutions of our Region.  We have the personnel and the capacity and withtimely assistance from the international community, we will also be in a better position to obtain therequired resources.  The time to act is now.

Thank you.