Bank's aims mirror our own goals, insists Johnson

By Morgan Adderley

Tribune Staff Reporter

madderley@tribunemedia.net

WITH The Bahamas set to host next year’s 50th Annual Board of Governors Meeting of the the Caribbean Development Bank, Financial Secretary Marlon Johnson has noted the priorities of the ban “mirrors” those of the Minnis Administration.

During the closing ceremony of the CDB’s 49th annual meeting, held last week in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, Mr Johnson accepted the mantle for The Bahamas to host the 2020 conference.

In an interview with The Tribune following the event, Mr Johnson expressed his hopes for underscoring The Bahamas’ long involvement with the CDB - which includes the Minnis Administration’s recent movement of a resolution to borrow $14.6m from the CDB to fund a street lighting-retrofitting project.

Regarding The Bahamas’ hosting duties for the 50th annual conference, Mr Johnson noted it’s been tradition for The Bahamas to host the conference every ten years.

“So it’s a tradition now, we’re doing it again on the 50th year,” he told the Tribune. “It’s timely for us because actually a lot of the priorities of the bank very much mirror the priorities of the administration.

“These development goals, whether it’s around digitisation, whether it’s around climate residency, whether it’s around SME development, the thrust of the bank actually mirrors The Bahamas.

“So it will be a good time for the Bahamian practitioners to actually sit in on some of the meetings to get a sense of what’s happening in the Caribbean and to get the idea as to see the extent to which what we’re doing actually mirrors some of the same challenges and opportunities elsewhere in the region.”

When asked about the government’s involvement with the CDB, Mr Johnson underscored The Bahamas has been a member of the CDB “almost since its independence”.

“And what the CDB does like the (Inter-American Development Bank) IDB is it provides developmental resources. it allows the government to get monies and loans at rates it couldn’t otherwise get on the open market. So the loans that you would get from the CDB or IDB would be at lower interest rates and at much longer tenures. So it means that your repayment period is longer and therefore smaller. And you also get the benefit of their expertise.

“Because, for instance, one of the projects that the government is now contemplating that’s before the House of Assembly is a street lighting project. And so not only will we get the $14.6m loan at very favourable rates and over a very favourable length of time, but the CDB would have done this project in other Caribbean countries.

“So now what they would have done (is) they would have developed a body of expertise around how these things work - what works, what doesn’t work. And so that’s how the country benefits when it borrows money from institutions like the CDB. The CDB is of particular relevance to us because it is Caribbean. And so as you would (have) heard over the last few days and as we see, a lot of the challenges and opportunities that we face as a Small Island Developing Country, our peers around the region face it. So you have that opportunity to dialogue with them, learn from them, and they learn from us.”

On May 29, Finance Minister K Peter Turnquest moved two resolutions to borrow a combined total of nearly $87m to defray expenditure and to fund the implementation of the street lighting-retrofitting project.

For state spending purposes, the government intends to borrow $72,387,438.

The remaining $14.6m from the Caribbean Development Bank will cover the street light project and includes project preparation assistance, infrastructure works, engineering and construction related services goods and project management.