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Billion-dollar regional investment planned

Over US$1 billion in new investment is expected to be pumped into Caribbean economies through private sector financing of various projects.

Word of this from Chief Executive Officer of CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank Rik Parkhill. He noted that the projects, which would receive financing through that institution, were across a range of sectors and in many islands.

CEO of CIBC FirstCaribbean Rik Parkhill.

CEO of CIBC FirstCaribbean Rik Parkhill.

He did not go into detail about the type of projects they were or the cash amounts of investments going into each island.

CIBC FirstCaribbean operates in 17 countries.

Parkhill made the disclosure during a media conference in Jamaica last evening ahead of the third annual CIBC FirstCaribbean Infrastructure Conference being held under the theme “Unlocking Economic Potential”.

“Our corporate pipeline in terms of sales opportunities is way over US$1 billion, and it ranges from hotel developments, tourism related projects to infrastructure related projects to even light manufacturing projects and energy efficiency in terms of solar and wind. So it is quite a diversified portfolio of opportunities,” said Parkhill.

“There is a large pipeline in Jamaica. There is one in the Bahamas as well.  Cayman, which is one of the earlier countries to recover [economically], there is a large pipeline there and we are seeing that in Barbados as well and Trinidad has been one of our healthiest markets,” he said, adding that the Dutch Caribbean has been “a big growth market” for the institution as well.

“It is becoming pretty widespread and pretty diversified. I think the areas that may be lagging are some of the smaller islands of the Eastern Caribbean,” explained Parkhill.

He said Trinidad, Jamaica and the Dutch Caribbean remained “opportunity rich areas” for the bank to explore growth opportunities, stressing that the Jamaica market remained one of the most strategic for the company.

And while acknowledging that the Barbados economy was still struggling due largely to unemployment, Parkhill gave the assurance that there was no plan for restructuring in that Eastern Caribbean market.

“Particularly this year, we are going to see perhaps not an explosion of infrastructure development but there are a lot of projects that have been on the drawing board over the last several years that are being dusted off and there is some evidence that the Caribbean economies have bottomed and have started to experience a modest recovery largely based on private sector investment,” he pointed out.

Parkhill also rubbished the notion that the bank preferred to lend to government and government-owned agencies rather than private sector.

The two-day conference, which focuses on public/private sector partnerships (PPP), attracted delegates from the United States the Caribbean and Canada. Among other things, it is designed to identify and discuss the key principles of what makes a successful PPP in relation to infrastructural development.

Some of the main items on the agenda include the types of regional projects that continue to attract international investment, including airport and cruise port terminal development, energy efficiency development projects and the techniques to increase credit rating of the projects.

Participants will also discuss best practices of infrastructure development, regional and international trends, while outlining the potential for PPP to be a catalyst for increased infrastructure development in the region in an effort to help increase productivity and efficiency and provide employment.

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