Antigua St John's - The Ministry of Finance will be hosting a team from the World Bank on May 1 and 2. The meeting is intended to review the suitability of the “4-3-2 Framework” for Antigua and Barbuda.
Antigua & Barbuda is the second country in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union undergoing this review, with Grenada being the first.
The “4-3-2 Framework” was developed by the IMF and the World Bank, at the request of CARICOM Heads of Government, to present a framework of solutions to address the chronic problem of high and unsustainable debt faced by the Caribbean and other small states. The framework is built around four pillars three instruments and two stages - hence the term “4-3-2”.
The four pillars, which deal with the challenge of high debt, include:
(i) enhancing private sector led growth;
(ii) improving fiscal balance;
(iii) mitigating the fiscal impact of natural disasters and other external shocks, and
(iv) restructuring debt portfolios. The Framework envisages debt portfolio restructuring would be accomplished utilising the three main debt tools: buy-back operations, debt-debt swap and debt-equity swap. This would then be implemented in two stages.
This meeting is particularly important because the Caribbean countries are among the highest indebted in the world. This problem is compounded by factors such as fiscal indiscipline and fiscal vulnerability to natural disasters and equally importantly, by relatively higher income levels which bar the CARICOM region’s access to concessionary loans.
The participants will include a wide cross-section of public sector and private sector representatives. The meeting will be held at the Ministry of Finance Conference Room.
Meanwhile, Minister of Finance, the Economy and Public Administration Harold Lovell has signed an agreement with the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD/World Bank) on April 20. The World Bank was represented by Director of the Caribbean Country Management Unit Francoise Clottes.
The Agreement with the World Bank provides for a Project Preparation Advance (PPA) grant of US$980,000, for expenditures associated with preparing for a Public and Social Sector Transformation Project (PSST).
The PSST is an integral part of the National Economic and Social Transformation (NEST) plan and has three key components:
(i) Public Sector Transformation,
(ii) Social Sector Transformation and
(iii) an Active Labour Market Programme.
The PPA will finance the establishment and staffing of a Project Management Unit in the Ministry of Finance, the Economy and Public Administration and consulting services and activities to facilitate preparation for the design of the PSST Project.
The project is expected to:
(i) modernize and facilitate better management of the public sector and enhance the efficient use of the human resources;
(ii) enhance Antigua & Barbuda’s capacity to formulate and successfully implement coherent and more efficient social sector policies and interventions by assessing and reform existing data gathering mechanisms; and
(iii) enhance the ability of adults between 17 and 50 years to find and maintain a job by addressing existing labour market deficiencies through strengthening and increasing the coverage of intermediation services and competency-based training programmes.
A release said, "While we have made significant progress to date on another pillar of the NEST plan, the fiscal consolidation programme, the process of public and social sector transformation will now see increased activity as a result of the signing of this agreement."
The Public Sector Transformation Unit in the Ministry of Finance, the Economy and Public Administration, Social Policy Unit in the Ministry of Health, Social Transformation and Consumer Affairs and the Labour Department in the Ministry of National Security, and Labour are the three key implementation agencies for the PSST.
As this government continues to pursue the best development outcomes for Antiguans and Barbudans, and sees the Public and Social Sector Transformation Project outcomes as integral to its economic growth and development objectives.
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