The deputy prime minister has urged the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) to invest in initiatives that will make the region more resilient and self-sufficient.
K Peter Turnquest, chair of the CDB’s Board of Governors, said The Bahamas’ recent experience with Hurricane Dorian had underscored the need for Caribbean nations to build financial resilience when he spoke to CDB staff at its Barbados headquarters.
Visiting the CDB ahead of its 50th annual meeting, scheduled for The Bahamas in June this year, Mr Turnquest said: “One of the issues that we face as individual nations is that there is a move towards more unilateralism throughout the global community, and that is making it more and more difficult for our countries to operate and do business as usual.”
Against this backdrop, he argued that Caribbean nations need to rely more on each other and regional institutions such as the CDB.
“If we invest more with each other we have tremendous opportunity to control much more of our destiny; to be able to stimulate and reinvest our monies within this region for our communities,” said Mr Turnquest.
“We mustn’t look at investments just from a returns perspective. We must look at how we make wise investments that will produce benefit and the opportunity for our economies to become more self-sufficient.”
Mr Turnquest added that The Bahamas’ recent experience with Hurricane Dorian had highlighted the need for a robust information technology (IT) infrastructure that provided victims with ready access to digital funds in the storm’s aftermath.
“One of the things they tell you is, before a hurricane, take some cash out so you can buy things [afterwards],” Mr Turnquest said. “But it didn’t matter. The cash washed away with everything else,; and so people were left vulnerable.
“We learned we need to figure out how to digitise our currency so that we can be up and running, and conduct commerce as soon as cell phone service comes up after the storm.”
Mr Turnquest said The Bahamas had already moved in this direction through Project Sand Dollar, the Central Bank-sponsored digital version of the Bahamian dollar.