Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) President Luis Alberto Moreno and delegation, accompanied Government officials, visited Exuma. From left are IDB Representative Oscar Spencer, President Moreno and IDB Executive Director for The Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago Jerry Butler. (Photo/Raymond A. Bethel)
By: Llonella Gilbert
NASSAU, Bahamas — The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is the only multi-lateral financial agency that offers funding to The Bahamas, said Minister of State for Finance the Hon. Zhivargo Laing, on December 8, 2007.
Mr. Laing said other multi-lateral financial agencies say The Bahamas is too rich to receive funding, as the per capita income in the country is around $20,000.
But he noted The Bahamas requires an enormous amount of resources to build adequate docks, airports, proper roads and drainage systems.
The country does not have the millions of dollars it would take to make such infrastructural improvements, he said.
Mr. Laing made these comments after touring the old dock in George Town, Exuma, and one of two new proposed sites for the dock with President of the IDB, Luis Alberto Moreno and other officials from the IDB and the Ministry of Finance, including Financial Secretary Ruth Millar and Undersecretary Janeen McCartney.
While in Exuma, Mr. Moreno also inspected the roads. He then travelled to Grand Bahama to tour the Container Port and hurricane effected areas as well as attend a working luncheon meeting with officials from the Grand Bahama Port Authority and the private sector.
The IDB president’s visit comes on the heels of the conclusion of a five-year plan between the IDB and The Bahamas.
Another contract is under negotiation for further development of The Bahamas, in the areas of infrastructure, health and education.
Mr. Laing noted that it costs millions of dollars to build drainage systems to mitigate the problems caused by flooding.
He was referring especially to the damage caused by severe flooding during Tropical Storm Noel, that resulted in one death in Exuma, as well as damage to homes and vehicles on that island as well as several others.
The Administrator for George Town Ivan Ferguson explained that it would have been better for the officials to have visited the island right after the heavy rains to see the damage that resulted.
But Mr. Ferguson said, “We have resolved it and that is due to the resiliency of the people of Exuma.”
Mr. Laing explained that Mr. Moreno is a genuine advocate for The Bahamas and someone who understands the needs of the nation.
“He believes in what we are seeking to do in this country and is not shy about seeking to advance our cause in the institution he now leads; an enormous institution where enormous changes are being made to ensure that it is able to assist countries like ours not just in terms of providing funding for government but in providing funding for the private sector.”
Mr. Laing said the IDB has a number of facilities that can provide economic financing for all medium and large scale enterprises in the country.
He noted that Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham is keen on exploring ways to improve the docking facilities on Exuma to meet the demands of the community.
Mr. Moreno said he and other IDB officials went to Exuma to look specifically at the condition of the dock, and to also discuss the matter with the Prime Minister.
He explained that they are reviewing two sites for a new dock, as well as developing the dock through private and public sector partnerships.
He said the two options are radically different and the site chosen must be able to cope with the further development of Exuma.
Mr. Moreno was accompanied by Dora Correa, General Manager of the Caribbean Country Department of the IDB; Yumiko Kusakabe, Investment Officer, Country Coordinator, Structured Corporate Finance; Jerry Butler, Executive Director for the Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago and Oscar Spencer, IDB Representative in The Bahamas.
The Inter-American Development Bank, the oldest and largest regional bank in the world, is the main source of multilateral financing for economic, social and institutional development in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Its loans and grants help finance development projects and support strategies to reduce poverty, expand growth, increase trade and investment, promote regional integration, and foster private sector development and modernization of the State.