Prime Minister David Thompson briefing the media at the recent press conference. At right is the??IDB Representative in Barbados, Anneke Jessen.

Four priority areas will receive funding totalling some $400 million, in the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) Country Strategy with Barbados for 2009-2013.??

The announcement was made by Prime Minister David Thompson at a recent press briefing at Government Headquarters.

The four sectors and the allotments forming part of the new strategy are coastal zone management and climate change adaptation, between $60 and $80 million; water and sanitation, approximately $100 million; energy, for which $80 to $100 million will be allocated; and education, which will also receive $80 to $100 million .

Stressing that the focus on coastal zone management and climate change adaptation were key to the tourism industry, Mr. Thompson revealed that the IDB would support government’s efforts to build resilience to coastal risks.

He said that this would be done by strengthening coordination across the different sectors that influence the health of the coastal zone. He explained that it would include improving mechanisms to assess and manage risks, through better data collection and cost recovery; improving disaster risk prevention; and developing a programme of shoreline stabilisation and marine zoning.

With respect to water and sanitation, the Prime Minister asserted that the IDB would support government’s efforts to achieve more efficient water supply and resource management.

The strategy will entail "focusing on improving the operational efficiency of the Barbados Water Authority and its programme to reduce production costs and water losses, as well as preparing a comprehensive wastewater treatment action plan".

In addition, a new sector strategy will be defined in the area of energy, aimed at promoting clean energy and using the resource more efficiently. "The Bank already approved several grant projects this year to help assess the country’s current energy balance, explore its renewable and bio energy potential, and develop energy efficiency policies for the public and private sector, including the island’s hotel industry," Mr. Thompson noted.

Enhanced planning and data collection; improved quality of primary and secondary education; and stronger links between the education system and the labour market; are some of the benefits expected in the education sector. ????????

Also addressing the media was IDB Representative in Barbados, Anneke Jessen, who pointed out that the new strategy was built on the previous one, with all four new sectors being crucial to the competiveness of the economy.

"We will be happy to support the government with institutional strengthening policy reform and infrastructural development in these areas. … In this current programme, we believe there will be infrastructure needs and also financing for policy reform," she stated.

Ms. Jessen disclosed that within the new cycle, Barbados could also benefit from grant funding, with "substantial" sums being available for sustainable energy and water management programmes.

She added: "These are two very big corporate priorities for the IDB, as is climate change, and so we think there is a very good match between the bank’s priorities and those of Barbados in developing its economy over the next few years."

Meanwhile, throughout the next strategy period, the execution of the current portfolio which focuses on public sector modernisation will continue. Some $128 million was allocated to that four-year strategy.??

According to Ms. Jessen, there are two programmes from that strategy which will be approved shortly. "One is in the area of agriculture to support the building of agricultural laboratories and also the strengthening of the national food and health system. There is also a competitiveness programme which is expected to support improvements in the business climate in areas such as logistics."

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