CDB celebrates golden anniversary

WITH an initial subscribed capital of US$50 million, a small staff, and, from its modest, temporary residence in Bridgetown, Barbados, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) commenced operations in early 1970.

Fast forward to 2020, the CDB’s subscribed capital now tops US$1.7 billion, providing a base from which the Bank can mobilise additional financing needed to provide critical development support to the region.

These accomplishments were highlighted by President of the CDB, Dr. Warren Smith, during a thanksgiving ceremony held at the Frank Collymore Hall on Sunday evening to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the regional institution.

Dr. Smith also revealed that net approvals of loans, contingent loans, equity and grants total around US$6 billion, with operations in every borrowing member country. Membership of the CDB stands at 28, of which 19 are borrowing members. Haiti and Suriname, the first non-English-speaking Caribbean countries, were also added into the fold as borrowing members.

According to Dr. Smith, “Increasingly, everywhere you go, there is physical manifestation of CDB’s presence in our Region – be that roads, bridges, seaports, airports, schools, rural electrification and renewable energy projects.

“Importantly, we have become very active in helping our countries to address critical policy reforms, especially relating to fiscal and debt management and improving the business environment.”

He explained that this assistance has not only come in the form of advice. “We have also provided substantial financing to our borrowing member countries to ensure that the reforms are implemented and entrenched. I am even more proud when we receive proof of the lives we have changed through our projects and through our technical assistance,” he told specially invited guests.

While highlighting the many accomplishments, Dr. Smith cautioned that the journey is not yet over. “Our Caribbean region continues to face immense pressures in realising our legitimate development aspirations. An uncomfortable truth is that approximately one in five persons in our Region still live in poverty.

“So, even as we celebrate today and make plans to continue the celebrations of our achievements in the upcoming months, we have not lost sight of the need to chart the path forward.”

He noted that the Bank’s Strategic Plan 2020-2024, approved by the Board of Directors, defines a new business model and provides a sound platform to keep CDB at the centre of the Region’s social and economic transformation.

“I can assure you that we will be seeking to better support our Region’s push to reduce poverty in a fair, inclusive and sustainable manner as we also close in on the ambitions set out in Agenda 2030 and its associated sustainable development goals.

“It is only when the needle on key indicators of life expectancy, education, purchasing power parity, gender equality, employment, especially amongst our youth and access to quality health and social care begin to point in the direction of strong and sustained improvement that we know, for sure, we are gaining ground and ‘no one is left behind’,” he said. (JH)

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