PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands (CMC) — Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) Premier, Charles Washington Misick, says the British Overseas Territory was able to support life and living through the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic because of the availability of vaccines, and that the territory had entered the pandemic “with a strong economy and significant reserves served us well”.
However, he noted that the TCI is mindful of the potentially devastating impacts of the Atlantic Hurricane Season.
“Our good fortune is not taken for granted and we remain conscious that our gains can be erased by the full impact of a single Category 5 hurricane,” said Misick, as he addressed the 52nd board of governors meeting of the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).
Misick, who is the outgoing chairman of the board of governors, said that many CDB borrowing member countries (BMCs) face a conundrum of having to do more with less.
“It is therefore most fitting that we should theme the meeting: ‘Measure Better to Target Better: Adaptation and Resilience’,” he said, adding that achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will require not only adaptation and resilience in a fast-changing global environment, but also a measurement system that considers the internal resilience capacity of BMCs.
“At a time when we seem to be moving from one crisis to another – from severe storms to COVID-19, to supply chain challenges resulting from the Russian-Ukrainian war and rising price inflation, all member countries need to take keen interest in supporting the Bank and to ensure that it is equipped and able to help BMCs navigate the challenges of food insecurity, renewable energy, climate change and environmental degradation,” he said.
He said the first face-to-face CDB board of governor’s meeting since 2019, should “serve as a clarion call for strengthening our regional partnership and recommitting to the changes that will be necessary for the sustainability of CDB”.
Misick said TCI and the other British Overseas Territories, “having gone through what is hopefully the worst of COVID-19”, are able to host this regional meeting, which ends later on Thursday, because of the partnership and support from the CDB’s non-borrowing member the United Kingdom.
He said TCI was able to open our borders earlier than many countries because of the gift of vaccines and technical support.
“As a result of that we have experienced a V shaped economic recovery,” Misick sai, adding that collectively, the Caribbean faces the same threats “but together we are able to decrease our vulnerabilities and build resilience by smart planning and committed resources.
“Crisis often gives us an opportunity to press the reset button and the pandemic is no different,” the Premier said, noting that the region’s survival and sustainability depend on “reimagining our futures.
“Working with the President and his team at the CDB in planning for what we hope is a renewed interest by all member countries in reshaping the future of the Bank,” he said and quoted Stanford psychologist Jamil Zaki’s concept of “growth through adversity..
“Zaki challenges us to be uncomfortable with merely rebuilding, or the state of merely maintaining position, or with the state of being unscathed by the adversity but finding ways through the lessons of hardships to focus on what it will take to not only survive, but to grow and thrive,” Misick said.
“Growth then is charting a new course, which will require us honing the ability to measure better to target better. Growth will require new ways of thinking about the value proposition of what it truly means to be partners and to collaborate.”
He said that measuring better means that MNCs will “need to see the value of consistent engagement and discourse of the various issues that we can collectively address and for which we can and must find solutions.
“Solutions can be found when we invest in and support the Caribbean Development Bank by giving a voice at the table articulating our considered view on perplexing matters; being a voice at times for our brother who is not doing as well as we are, by provision of resources, financial or otherwise.”
Misick said solutions can be found in funding research and development and other interventions that will assist all Caribbean countries.
“We are not clairvoyant; and difficulty comes to all mankind – we don’t know how or when. But because it comes when we least expect it, then as McCarthy would say: maybe the thing to do is to always expect it and be prepared for it. A voice around the table will help us to plan collectively how to address these issues.”
He said the region must continue to see the CDB as “a regional public good; an enabler of the progression of the entire development agenda of the entire region; a resource that is supported by all of us. This requires all hands-on deck. “
Misick said that while some borrowing member countries are able to access more affordable lines of credit than offered by the CDB, “interest rates should not be the sole variable in accessing credit”.
He said developing banks like CDB have the added value of in-house technical expertise that allows them to participate in decisions involving choices of technology and scale.”
He said TCI is engaging with CDB “and it is our intention to leverage our good credit rating to the betterment of the TCI and the bank toward economic transformation”.