Debt Relief in the Caribbean

The Conference of Churches in Grenada held its third Debt Relief Conference on Tuesday and Wednesday April 22nd and 23rd, 2014, at the Upper Room of the Blessed Sacrament Church, Grand Anse.

The participants included representatives from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica and Jamaica and from International Jubilee organisations in the U.K., U.S.A. and Germany.

The Commonwealth Secretariat was represented by economic advisor, Mr. Travis Mitchell. Local participants included representatives of trades unions, C.S.O s and churches.

The workshop was addressed by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Timothy Antoine

The first conference in this series was held in May 2013. Following which a number of recommendations were made to the Government of Grenada which included a push for a reduction on the debt stock and a restructuring of the public debt.

The discussion since then has not only focussed on Grenada’s situation but also on the wider Caribbean region as most countries are also facing similar conditions with regards to their public debt.

Hon Oliver Joseph, Minister of Economic, Planning, Trade and Cooperatives, was  presented with suggestions  that  can be adopted by Government as it embarks on  various initiatives aimed at receiving debt relief and forgiveness from creditors.

The highlight of the conference was the launch of the Caribbean Debt Network – a regional body whose aim and objectives are:

(1). To raise the awareness of the people of our region around the implications, consequences and effects of the sovereign debt situations of our countries.
(2). To work towards the establishment of an initiative that will provide a structure within which our countries can resolve the problem of indebtedness.

(3). To foster cooperation among the people, churches and civil society organisations of the region in working toward the resolution of the sovereign debt situation and the achievement of sustainable development and fiscal responsibility at all levels.

(4). To consider strategies around the social effects of sovereign debt on associated issues of concern such as human trafficking, drug trafficking, climate change, HIV/Aids etc.

(5). To work with governments and with our international partners on all aspects of debt.

(6). To encourage the Governments of Grenada and Antigua & Barbuda to champion the cause of having a special initiative for resolving the problem of the indebtedness of the countries of the Caribbean and achieving a sustainable debt level.

The conferences received the support and funding of Adveniat, (an agency of the Conference of German Catholic Bishops), the Government of Grenada, the Commonwealth Secretariat and the United Nations Development Programme.

The Coordinator of the Caribbean Debt Network is Bernard Lauwyck of Dominica.

(The above was a Grenada Perspective from a conference organised by the Conference of Churches in Grenada)

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