Caricom chairman and Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley has called for financial institutions to take more risks as the region comes closer to being in danger of being one of the poorest in the world.
Mottley made the call on Monday at the opening of the 2020 TT Energy Conference held at the Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain.
Financial institutions consider the word “risk” a bad one, she said, and they have lost their appetite for it.
“(There are those) who believe they should undertake projects in the way that a man wears a belt and suspenders and a hoist to keep his pants up. The bottom line is that we have become as risk averse as is humanly possible.”
For a region such as the Caribbean, which has been highly exploited, confidence in our ability to manage our affairs is needed.
“(It would require) a determination that our actions be based on principals and values, not just at the leader level but with all in our society and a determination that we be fair to all but always but first be fair to ourselves.”
As it regards oil and gas, Mottley commended TT as a first-mover because the country has close to a century in experience in oil and gas production, and confidence and experience in the entities that have valuable experience and know-how in the fossil fuel industries would be beneficial to all.
“This region will only mean something if we are prepared to leverage our expertise to the benefit of each other. As we move to the basin in the Guyanas, the reality of that (TT’s) experience is there for all to draw upon.”
She added that the experience of others in the region, whether through Barbados’ experience in the financial services sector, or the experience of engineers in other parts of the region, should not be ignored.
Mottley called for the opening of borders between countries, despite the contrary advice of financiers.
“The very revised Treaty of Chaguaramas is premised on the basis of the movement of our factors of production.
“We need to begin to accept that the adversarial approach is not the one that would bring the greatest economic benefits to our people.”
She called for a dedicated protocol on regional co-operation on energy and the development of financial instruments that would benefit the man on the street.
“We need to find creative financial instruments whether through unit trust or other instruments to allow our people to participate in this sector. It creates the mechanisms by which our people can understand that they will not be left to be tenants in their lands.”