Address by Minister Oliver: Announcement of Funding for Public Financial Management in the Caribbean

August 2, 2014 ­ – Toronto, Ontario

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Hi, everyone. It’s great to be here at Caribana with you. What a fantastic cultural event, and a great opportunity to join in this event.

It was my honour to help launch the 48th annual Caribana Caribbean Carnival. And what a carnival it is.

This great city has come alive—with lights and laughter and creativity—for this, North America’s biggest and best Caribbean festival.

As Canada’s regional minister for the GTA, helping launch this spectacular event is one of the best parts of my job.

I’m also here on behalf of Canada’s Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, Christian Paradis.

Canada has many ties with the Caribbean: historic, commercial, cultural and personal. People from the region represent one of the largest diaspora communities in Canada.

And that’s saying something in a country like Canada!

The flow between the Caribbean and Canada is two-way, of course—and here I am not just referring to those of us escaping the Canadian winter: at least 5,000 Canadians live in Barbados alone, for example.

Some of Canada’s longest business relationships are with the nations of the Caribbean.

The first Canadian bank in the region—Scotiabank—opened an office in Jamaica in 1889. Our first Trade Commissioner—Mr. Flood—arrived in Bridgetown more than one hundred years ago.

Today, Canadian direct investments in the region are estimated to be more than $60 billion, with millions flowing each year in the import and export of products and commercial and travel services.

We have much to learn from each other.

Canada’s relationships with the countries of this region matter a great deal to us.

That is why, in 2007, Prime Minister Harper committed to a renewed partnership with the Caribbean and the Americas. He said that he wanted to “build together a stronger, enduring partnership—one that brings the countries of the Caribbean and Canada even closer together on the issues that really matter.”

Since then, Canada has invested more than $4.6 billion in total international assistance in the Americas and $400 million to the region in 2012–2013.

Our program in the Americas is primarily focused on the Caribbean, as well as Peru, Colombia, Honduras and Haiti.

We are working with our trading partners to open new markets that will create opportunities for businesses and jobs in Canada and throughout the hemisphere.

And we know that the stronger our trade and commercial ties are, the more we will be able to promote sustainable economic growth in the Caribbean and the Americas.

That is why I am pleased to be able to announce on behalf of Minister Paradis that Canada will contribute $15 million in funding over four years to enhance public financial management in the Caribbean and to provide technical assistance to Caribbean countries facing economic crises.

The first $5 million of the funding will be used to help the Government of Jamaica make fiscal management changes to meet commitments under its International Monetary Fund program, while the remaining $10 million goes toward technical assistance in other Caribbean countries facing economic management difficulties.

Through this funding, the IMF will work with governments to provide short-, medium- and long-term advice, as well as training to respond to factors that add to the precarious financial situation.

Many of these economies—especially those that rely on tourism—have not recovered from the global economic crisis that compromised them.

Public debt averages 90 percent of gross domestic product in countries that depend on tourism. 

As a former investment banker, I know how important this kind of financing can be.

And according to the IMF’s regional economic outlook, changes such as strengthening financial supervision are critical to achieving stability in these countries.

Canada is a key development partner in the Caribbean, and our services exports to CARICOM countries are more than $1.1 billion—equal to some of our largest trading partners.

In fact, Canadian direct investment in the region is a substantial $75.5 billion.

Today’s announcement is in keeping with our objective of promoting an enabling and predictable environment for economic growth through, among other things, greater public sector efficiency.

This initiative is a special fund to provide training through the IMF to Caribbean countries facing economic crises. And the IMF has the expertise in macroeconomic management that makes it well placed to carry out this task.

I am proud that Canada promotes solid public financial management and helps stimulate economic prosperity as a way of reducing poverty in the Caribbean.

Thank you.