Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 23rd 2015 Contents JULY 23 • 2015 www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COVER STORY | BG5
Portfolio stands at US$740mn
"We have an office in every single Caribbean
country and in every single member country
of the IDB. We split our membership into bor-
rower countries and non-borrower countries.
France and Spain are members of the IDB but
are non borrowing members. Then there are
those members that borrow like T&T," he said.
Bermudez spoke to the Business Guardian
at his office, Alexander Street, St Clair.
The IDB s member countries include
Argentina, Bahamas, China, Colombia,
Costa Rica, Denmark, the Dominican
Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Finland,
France, Germany, Guatemala, Guyana,
Haiti, Honduras, Israel, Italy, Jamaica,
Mexico, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway,
Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Slove-
nia, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Swtizer-
land, T&T, USA, Uruguay, Venezuela.
He said the IDB also wants to help T&T
diversify its economy and said global services
is just one area the IDB can help T&T in.
"I think everyone agrees in the public and
private sector that T&T needs to diversify its
economy. If there is consensus about some-
thing in this country it is that. The questions
the view that the advantage of this country
is mostly in services rather that going into
manufacturing and even if it is manufacturing
it has to be very niche oriented. For the most
part, we think that the advantages might be
He said these global services they are exam-
ining with the T&T Government are in areas
as ICT, accountancy, back office services,
"T&T s population is well-educated, speaks
English, has a time zone that works well for
some companies, and we think this is a niche
that T&T should be exploring. We are working
with the Government to set up those strategies.
We already have a loan for the Global Services
Project and soon we will be disbursing money."
The IDB is also working with the Govern-
ment on an innovation strategy.
"How to get into new sectors to stimulate
innovation strategies. Sometimes you need to
have certain things to stimulate those strategies
and create the environment for innovative
ideas. In the three weeks I have been here I
have seen a lot of creativity. You see a lot of
talent in many areas and the economy needs
to bring it to where it has to be," he said.
He said the process of economic diversifi-
cation in T&T will take time.
"To create that environment and conditions
will take time. The bus has already left and
the Government is doing things to get into
that direction. There has been an acknowl-
edgement on every angle of the political spec-
trum that something has to be done. The Gov-
ernment needs to create the conditions for
this to happen. Probably oil prices being
depressed will help create that sense of urgency
and broaden the fiscal base which was con-
centrated in oil and gas."
He said there is no need to move away from
the oil and gas sector absolutely as some of
the diversification can take place within this
"You have T&T being a provider of services
in oil and gas. There are things that are done
here that can be done anywhere in the world
and this brings in hard currency which has
traditionally come from oil and gas. T&T needs
different sources of foreign income."
He said T&T needs to get into non-tradi-
tional areas like culture, arts. The country has
a solid banking sector that can be explored
and needs to look beyond the Caribbean region.
"T&T looks a lot to the Caribbean which
is important but it needs to look at the North
and South America and Central America where
there are opportunities. Any trade agreements
signed with these countries, there must be
strategies to explore them. I just came from
Panama and there is strong interest from busi-
ness people in that country who wish to do
business with T&T."
He said T&T has the potential to do much
better than it is doing now and one model
that T&T can use is the Public Private Part-
nership (PPP) model.
"T&T has huge amounts of savings here in
this country. There is liquidity in the banks
and pension funds. That money can be used
to work for the development of the country.
If you set up a well structured project between
the private sector and the public sector, you
can find the sources to finance this. These are
investments that can be done in infrastructure,
roads, airports, and ports. Jamaica has done
a lot of their projects in PPP s. The IDB wants
to get involved in this area."
Bermudez maintains that the IDB remains
relevant in a world where there are many other
options and other new development banks.
"I am confident that any of these new insti-
tutions have the level of support that we could
provide. I tell my staff everyday we need to
change ourselves as an institution and the way
we do things and where we want to be in the
next ten to 15 years. I am a believer in change
management or else we will have an institution
15 to 20 years down the road that is irrele-
He said the IDB continues to partner with
other international and regional banks to help
"We work with the CAF Developmental
Bank of Latin America, we work with my col-
leagues from the Caribbean Development Bank
(CDB). We have initiatives we can work on
together. We alone cannot do it all. It is similar
with the World Bank and the new Asian Devel-
opment Bank, they realise not one institution
can do it alone."
He said the IDB, unlike some of the newer
development banks, has been around for
"The International Monetary Fund (IMF)
and the IDB are the product of a different
world after the World War Two. The powers
that created the corporate governance of these
institutions are not alone now in the 21st
century, there are now other actors involved
now. The world has changed. The IDB has to
find ways to innovate."
He added that the days of the IMF and the
IDB directing countries on how to manage
their economies are over.
"That is not the case anymore. You have
to come and you have to earn your lunch. To
earn your lunch you have to be providing
something of value to your client. I cannot
come here to the T&T Government and tell
them what to do, they better than anyone else
know what needs to be done in terms of devel-
opment of the country."
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