UWI stages annual fora to examine economic outlook for region

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The University of the West Indies (UWI) has embarked on an annual series of symposia to examine the economic outlook for the Caribbean.

The fora, to be held every February, will be jointly undertaken by the Global Affairs Division in the Office of the Vice Chancellor, and the Department of Economics.

State Minister, Ministry of Finance and Public Service (Jamaica), Fayval Williams (left), speaks, with University of the West Indies (UWI) Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Global Affairs, Dr Richard Bernal, just before the start of the UWI’s inaugural economics symposium held at the institution’s regional headquarters, Mona, St Andrew. (Photo: JIS)

The first was held on Thursday, February 2 at the UWI’s regional headquarters, Mona, St Andrew, under the theme: ‘Economic Outlook for the Caribbean – 2017’.

It featured presentations by a wide range of academics and technocrats as well as discussions on key issues.

The participants included: Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) Director General, Dr Wayne Henry; International Monetary Fund (IMF) Representative to Jamaica, Dr Constant Lonkeng Ngouana; Senior World Bank Country Economist for Latin America and the Caribbean, Annette De Kleine Feige; Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Caribbean Country Manager, Therese Turner-Jones; Deputy Director, Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) Sub-regional Headquarters, Dr Dillon Alleyne; and Head of the Department of Economics at the UWI’s Cave Hill Campus in Barbados, Professor Winston Moore.

The topics covered included: ‘Macroeconomic Outlook and Sustainability’; ‘Economic Growth Trends, Forecasts, Impediments and Strategies’; ‘Private Sector Development: Performance and Projections’; and ‘Poverty and Other Socio-Economic Indications; Trends and Forecasts’.

The UWI’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Global Affairs, Dr Richard Bernal, noted the Department of Economics’ long tradition of providing policy advice to governments and regional institutions in the Caribbean.

“In addition, we have trained hundreds of officials and technocrats involved in policymaking. In continuation of that tradition, we have decided to hold a series of seminars of which this is the first,” he said.

Henry, who welcomed the initiative, said the undertaking is timely, and comes against the background of contrasting performances by regional economies.

He noted that Jamaica has made “significant strides” in fiscal management aided, in part, by lower global oil prices.

This, the Director General pointed out, has resulted in a more stable macro- economy and positive prospects for growth than previously recorded, particularly since the 2008 global recession.

Henry noted that while Jamaica’s continued focus on fiscal management and implementation of growth-enhancing initiatives augur well for the economy over the long-term, other regional countries such as Trinidad and Tobago “have not fared as well.”

“It is therefore increasingly important for us to recognise that the changes in the global economy may have varying impacts on our domestic economies, which may only be effectively mitigated through strengthened regional collaboration,” the Director General said. (JIS) 

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