By Julie Carrington
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (BGIS) — The principals of the CARICOM Development Fund (CDF) have pledged to continue to assist disadvantaged countries, regions and sectors of CARICOM to participate in the CARICOM Single Market and Economy and to build confidence in the institution.
Chief executive officer of the CDF, Lorne McDonnough, gave this undertaking on Monday during the official signing of the CARICOM Development Fund headquarters agreement between government of Barbados and the CDF.
McDonnough said the conclusion of the agreement fulfilled the legal requirements of article 32 (2) of the agreement that related to the operation of the CDF and “finally elevates the raft of privileges and immunities conferred from the realm of cordial diplomacy to that of agreed and binding responsibilities of the respective parties”.
He further stated: “Most importantly, it formally establishes that the CDF, in its operations in the host nation of Barbados, shall have the independence and freedom of action belonging to that of an international organisation and provides for the enjoyment of ancillary rights and benefits.”
McDonnough also gave a synopsis of the financial assistance to some countries within the region, such as the signing of a US$7.2 million agreement with Guyana and St Kitts and Nevis at the recently concluded CARICOM heads of government conference in Trinidad and a US$7.1 million agreement to be signed with Dominica shortly.
He said the activities that were identified for financing were determined by the member states and the implementation phase of those projects will be managed by CARICOM citizens.
Since 2011, McDonnough said a total of US$35.5 million in financial assistance had been disbursed to Belize, Dominica, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
In thanking the Barbados government for its generosity to the CDF, he added: “The objectives of the CDF are also to help the larger territories/economies to support their weaker sectors and at the same time, develop national capacities to become internationally competitive.”
Meanwhile, minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade, Senator Maxine McClean, said there was never any doubt about government’s commitment to ensure that the Fund was properly financed.
She also said that Barbados took a decision not to “draw down” from the Fund because government recognised the importance of “sharing the benefits of the CARICOM project in all its elements”.
“We recognise that there are a number of countries… those lesser developed member states… primarily members of the OECS and the highly indebted member states as well, that they be given the opportunity to realise some of the benefits of this Fund,” McClean said.