Jamaica on Tuesday said there was a need for an “unprecedented response” to the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and praised the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) for its role so far in helping the region deal with the situation.
Finance and Public Service Minister Dr. Nigel Clarke, addressing the virtual 50th annual meeting of the CDB Board of Governors, described the pandemic as “an unprecedented event” requiring a similar response.
“As such, we welcome and acknowledge the various initiatives already undertaken by the CDB to support members as they respond to the varying impact of the pandemic.
“Importantly, as we turn to the future, the development and deployment of initiatives that seek to secure long term sustainable economic growth in the region becomes even more important,” Clarke told the meeting that is being chaired by the Bahamas Finance Minister K Peter Turnquest.
The Jamaican finance minister, who spoke on behalf of the CDB’s borrowing member countries (BMC), said there is an opportunity for the region’s premier financial institution to “further position and entrench itself n supporting member countries in our recovery efforts as we chart a new course for growth and critically for economic resilience”.
He said post-pandemic recover efforts will require the ability of the private sector, which includes a substantial number of small, micro and medium-sized enterprises “to robustly contribute to economic activity, output and employment.
“As such support in this area is absolutely critical,” he said, adding that thematic areas, many of which are in the already in the forefront of CDB, include disaster risk reduction, climate change, agricultural development and ther areas.
He said they are important as countries seek to become socially, economically and climate resilient.
Clarke said that it is also important to recognise social impacts and the potential role of the CDB in assisting in the solution towards these challenges.
“For example, the pandemic is by no means gender-neutral. Women are bearing a disproportionate burden. They constitute the majority of front line workers in many countries, including our own. They are highly representative in small and medium-sized businesses that are affected and schooling from home imposes additional burdens that are skewed towards the female gender.
“And in addition, evidence suggests that violence against women has increased during the pandemic. I believe therefore that there is an opportunity for the CDB to consider gender-based initiatives in its response to the crisis and our response collectively cannot be gender blind and must incorporate a gender element,” Clarke told the CDB governors.