From June 1st to June 16th, The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) held its 52nd annual Board of Governors meeting attracting over 200 delegates. I think the CDB has an excellent potential to be an institutional force in the world to be reckoned with especially if they can unite the Caribbean region and resolve the many issues facing our region.
While I appreciate the contribution from the CDB over the many years it has been in existence and the fact that the conference was held in the Turks and Caicos, I cannot be silent and don’t say anything about my observations of the Conference. This is by no means a reflection of CDB but rather the Turks and Caicos Islands Government
The African Connection
When the Prime Minster, Mia Motley signed several agreements with some African countries, I must admit I couldn’t comprehend the logic at that time but after listening to Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, the President of the African Development Bank (ADB), I think the Caribbean should connect with Africa on a commercial basis. I do hope that the Turks and Caicos Islands use this opportunity to expand our Agribusiness in the Turks and Caicos Islands. It was such a pleasure listening to Dr. Adesina on how he was able to transform not only the economy of Nigeria but also transform the mindset of the people of Nigeria. He can guide and help us in the Caribbean to do the same. I know that the distance between Africa and the Caribbean is an obstacle in bridging the gap but with the advancement of technology, we can overcome the distance factor.
The Conference provided a great opportunity for networking and to share best practices among Caribbean countries and visiting countries rather than reinventing the wheel for something that is already been done and tested elsewhere. I think it is time we integrate as one Caribbean region and to see how we can help one another.
The Youth Forum
I think our young people are very creative and innovative and have a lot to offer and they should not be taken for granted so I do like the fact that there was youth forum element as part of the Conference.
With all that is happening with the supply chain crisis, I think having food security on the agenda of the Conference was a proactive initiative. Food shortage is already taking place and we cannot survive without food. Hopefully some realistic solutions came out of that session.
Show case TCI
This Conference was a great opportunity to showcase our beautiful by nature country, people, culture, and food. Sometimes people look at the small size of our country and think we are small in mindset too, but I believe after this conference, we will not be judged by our size.
The Invitation List
I don’t know who determines who get invited to these events. Of course, I am excluding the delegates. However, when an event like this happens in any country, we should ensure that we capitalize on this opportunity by inviting people who will benefit and contribute significantly to the issues that are being addressed.
This event should not be just about social gathering, a make you feel good event or a photoshoot event, but the event is to address serious issues and to develop solutions affecting us and the Caribbean. I was taken aback when I see some of the individuals who were invited to the events and some of the individuals who were not invited. Are we serious about wanting a change? If we want a change, then we need to change the way we do things in this country. Yes, I am one of those persons who were not invited except for one event and quite frankly it only happened because out of curiosity, I asked one of the civil servants why I was not invited and then I got an invitation. Now this is not about me, but I wanted to be transparent as there are many other people who should have been there and some people who were there should not have been there. We need the right people in the audience at these events and we need people there that really care and will walk away with a plan to make a difference. Of course, these events can be viewed online but being in person and connecting and interacting with the relevant individuals is more impactful.
I know having an event of this magnitude is costly. However, it alleged that this event cost the taxpayers more than one million dollars. Since this is our money, I challenge the Government to provide the public with a breakdown of the alleged one million dollars expenditure. Somehow, it appears when it comes to Government, some vendors tend to overprice their products and services and so we don’t get value for our money.
I don’t know if this includes accommodation costs at the hotels, but I would think that the delegates except for the special guests are responsible for their own room costs.
I also know that there are limited conference and dining facilities in the islands but whatever we do, we should spread the wealth around to multiple places rather than using one or two places. This is by no means an indictment on the vendors as it not their fault if they were selected to be used.
Another observation is the presence of multiple VIP transportation services at these events and we the people of the Turks and Caicos would like to know how much we paid for transportation services. Did we use taxi services? Was it a requirement by CDB to provide VIP transportation services when these events were held in other countries? Do we get VIP transportation services when we travel abroad to functions?
I hope this conference was not just another talking conference where the right words are being spoken but no action takes place. Somehow though, I am optimistic that something positive will come out of this Conference. We have already seen an agreement was signed between CDB and ADB.
However, I cannot say the Conference was a success yet, but I can say the Conference covered pertinent and relevant topics and some powerful decision makers were present. However, within a year, I will determine if the conference was a success by the actions that were implemented.