he chief executive officer of the CARICOM Development Fund (CDF), Lorne McDonnough, has urged member states to renew their commitment to the organization for the upcoming second funding cycle despite the difficult economic times.
Addressing the recent fourth meeting of contributors and development partners held in Barbados, McDonnough described the CDF as an example of regional integration at work even as CARICOM member states continue to confront economic and financial challenges.
He noted that in an environment where some CARICOM stakeholders doubt the relevance of the regional movement, the CDF played a positive role through its active support of projects that promote economic and social cohesion and in the final analysis has a positive impact on CARICOM citizens in their daily life.
McDonnough stressed: “We in CARICOM must courageously pursue the goal of integration and, in so doing, ensure that the facilitating mechanisms like the CDF can work effectively to allow for the realization of the gains from trade and that these gains are fairly distributed.”
Noting that only 67.5 percent of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy had so far been fully implemented, he revealed that the strategic plan for the wider region had been approved by CARICOM heads and would focus on an achievable range of priorities, recognizing that resources were finite and that implementation of these priorities was key.
Reflecting on the CDF’s performance during the first funding cycle, McDonnough noted that the fund had approved grants and loans for eight member states amounting to some EC$123.6 or US$ 46.15 and was working with other development partners to leverage its resources.
He added that CDF’s involvement in the financing of the new Argyle International Airport and its partnership with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) on the Northern Highway Project in Belize were small but significant undertakings in keeping with their remit and demonstrated that as a small treaty-based entity, they can play a vital role in addressing disparities within the integration process.