President of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Dr. Hyginus ‘Gene’ Leon made a whirlwind visit to Montserrat on Thursday, March 24, 2022.
This was his first official visit to the island since taking office. The President was accompanied by Senior Advisor to the President, Dr. Shelton Nicholls.
“Supporting the resilience agenda of our Borrowing Member Countries is a significant area of focus for us at CDB. It has to be. Our BMCs [Borrowing Member Countries] face unique challenges as small countries with high vulnerability to climate change and natural and environmental hazards. These can make it difficult to fully pursue our development agendas yet because of the criteria we are assessed by, our BMCs face challenges in unlocking the kind of concessional financing they need,” noted Dr. Leon.
He affirmed CDB’s commitment to supporting the development and resilience agendas of Montserrat, both through financing and through advancing solutions such as the Bank’s Recovery Duration Adjuster mechanism which specifically address the needs of Small Island Developing States.
Dr. Leon met with Premier Joseph E. Farrell, before going into technical discussions on a raft of matters dealing with continued financial support for the Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF), energy financing and development collaboration in key sectors. The CDB President and Snr Advisor to the President met with Financial Secretary Lindorna Lambert and Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Premier, Daphne Cassell.
Premier Farrell highlighted the critical need for greater concessional funding from CDB given Montserrat’s unique population challenges and economic constraints.
The visit included a trip to the Old Salem Primary School which will be refurbished and renovated into a community centre under the BNTF programme. The president also briefly visited the BNTF-funded road projects and the Davy Hill Community Centre.
Dr. Leon is the sixth President of CDB and brings with him over 30 years of experience in Economics, Financial Policy Development and Executive Management. He was elected at a Special Meeting of the CDB Board of Governors held on January 19, 2021 for a five-year term, and assumed office on May 4, 2021.
Montserrat is one of the founding members of CDB, having joined in 1970. In 2017, the Bank approved £14.4 million in grant funding for the Little Bay Port Development project, one of the largest projects in recent history in the country.