By Lesroy W. Williams Observer Reporter
(Basseterre, St. Kitts)”The global financial crisis and its impact on the Caribbean dominated the 13th Sir Arthur Lewis Memorial Lecture delivered at the Sir Cecil Jacobs Auditorium at the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank on November 5. Professor Compton Bourne, former Principal of the St. Augustine Campus of the University of the West Indies, and presently, President of the Caribbean Development Bank, delivered the lecture under the theme “Caribbean Economic Recessions from a Historical Perspective.” Professor Bourne said that the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank is arguably the best institution for banking in the Caribbean because over the years it has remained resilient in weathering many financial crises. He pointed out that the Caribbean had gone through economic recessions in the past of which 1970 was probably the worst. “Fluctuation in economic growth is a normal part of economic life,” Professor Bourne said. Given the present global economic crisis, he made it clear that the length of recovery from economic recession can take a very long time and that it can have a severe impact on many economies. Minister of Finance, the Hon. Dr. Timothy Harris, in giving welcoming remarks, congratulated the ECCB on their 25th anniversary as a banking institution and highlighted that the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis was also celebrating 25 years of Independence. The financial services sector does not operate in a vacuum because our economies are linked locally, regionally and internationally, Dr. Harris said. The region’s largest market for tourism is the U.S. and the region relies heavily on them for foreign direct investment and the present economic recession in the U.S. will impact the Federation, Dr.Harris said. Dr. Harris hailed President-elect Barack Obama’s victory in the recent U.S. elections as historic and said that he hopes that the policies of his administration would seek to include the Caribbean region so that some benefit can be derived for us. He referred to the “challenge of development” and pointed out that development takes time. Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, Sir Dwight Venner, in introducing Professor Bourne, described him as a distinguished scholar and friend. Sir Venner, like Dr. Harris, outlined that we are facing a financial crisis, a food crisis and problems of climate change that are impacting significantly people’s lives. He said that we have to look for solutions to face the crises. Sir William Arthur Lewis was born in St. Lucia. He obtained his PhD in Industrial Economics from the London School of Economics. He was Principal of the University College of the West Indies and in 1962 became the first Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies. He was knighted in 1963. In 1970, he was made the first President of the Caribbean Development Bank and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1979. Some of his major works include “The Industrialization of the British West Indies”; “Labour in the West Indies”; Economic Development with Unlimited Supplies of Labour”; ‘the Theory of Economic Growth” and “The Agony of the Eight”. Sir Arthur’s image is on the hundred dollar note of the EC currency as a deserving symbol of his remarkable contribution to regional integration and sovereignty.