Beckles: UWI Has Critical Role To Play In Caribbean Economies

Hilary Beckles_UWI.jpg

A report by Clive Bacchus for WINN FM.

University of the West Indies Vice Chancellor Sir Hilary Beckles is banking on a strategic plan for the region’s economies and premier educational institution in this age of globalization.

He said meetings were held with international organizations like the IMF and the World Bank to discuss the macro economic outlook and the sustainable development in the Caribbean.

“We met with all of these organizations to share with them our thinking and to hear from them how they are looking at the prospect for the Caribbean economy going forward. I was asked to participate in the dissemination of the recent UNDP Caribbean Human Development Report 2016 that focuses for the first time in a very specific way on the inhibiting factors in Caribbean development. That report focused on two very important messages, that one of the most important reasons for the drive and the development of the Caribbean economy is the fundamental, deep seated structural inequality in our economies and societies. There are economic models that can enable you to measure the wastage associated with inequality. Our economies and societies are classified as among some of the most unequal in the world and that has to do with our historical origins and how our system has evolved, this is now being targeted as one of the persistent poverty in the Caribbean. It also accounts for circumstances such as what we’ve had in Trinidad and Tobago when in the last ten years, the economy of Trinidad and Tobago was growing significantly but while the economy was growing and recording significant levels of growth, the indices showed that poverty was increasing at the same time.”

While delivering the Vice Chancellor’s report to the University Council at the Cave Hill Campus, Sir Hilary said it was important to understand an economic structure that is growing while poverty is increasing.

“That becomes an interesting relationship for us to understand how you can have an economic structure that is growing while poverty and inequality is also increasing simultaneously. These are things that we should understand at our university because we are concerned not only with economic growth we are also concerned with social growth. We want our societies to grow as well, we want our societies to become more sophisticated, we want our citizens to feel less vulnerable. We want our citizens to feel that there is opportunity to have a quality life as a citizen walking the streets, in the parks, in your household. So social growth to us, is as important as economic growth, because we don’t want economies that are growing while citizens are feeling vulnerable, while citizens are unable to enjoy their societies.”

He said the UWI has critical role to play in improving the current situation and building a resilient Caribbean.

The UWI is owed US$105 million by Caribbean governments and would face what the Sir Hillary described as significant financial difficulty without an annual injection of US$75 million.

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