Is it noble or reckless for aid or support agencies to spend public money to try to entice fresh and, possibly naïve, inward investment into a country that expropriates foreign owned private property and steadfastly refuses to pay any compensation over a period stretching more than a decade?
According to its recent requests for expressions of interest, "Compete Caribbean is a private sector development program jointly funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the United Kingdom Department of International Development (DFID) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in partnership with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) to provide technical assistance grants and investment funding to support productive development policies, business climate reforms, clustering initiatives and Small and Medium Size Enterprise (SME) development activities in the Caribbean region.
The Government of Antigua and Barbuda has received financing from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and intends to apply part of the proceeds to payments under the project COMPETE CARIBBEAN: Private Sector Development and Competitiveness, for consulting services ("the Services") aimed at clarifying investment opportunities and strengthening the institutional capacity for attracting foreign direct investment into Antigua & Barbuda over a 6 month period -September 2013 - February 2014."
The Inter-American Development Bank acts as administrators of the Compete Caribbean Program and is responsible for applying part of the proceeds of the grant for what it describes as a "minimal amount of goods and related consulting services.
The wishful outcome of the project includes examining Antigua and Barbuda´s focus and positioning for attracting investments and to identify two target investments sectors and elaborate their respective FDI strategies and implementation plans.
This involves developing specialised materials and Information Technology tools, creating strategic advocacy inputs for Antigua and Barbuda Investment Authority (ABIA) ABIA, including a prioritised policy advocacy agenda, an economic study and a cost-benefit FDI tool.
The planned Programme concludes with training and mentoring programs aimed at building capacity and project flow by promoting and servicing investments through ABIA and other strategic local stakeholders.
The Inter-American Development Bank has invited consultants with degrees in Finance, Business Administration or Economics, with over 15 years working experience at a senior managerial level of an investment promotion agency within Latin America and the Caribbean. The consultant should be familiar with International Best Practice Methodologies, Tools and Techniques in Investment Promotion. They should have experience in staff training for Investment Promotion Agencies and experience working with international development agencies (e.g. the European Union, World Bank/IFC/FIAS, IADB, UNIDO, UNDP, ECLAC DFID, CIDA, CAF).
What is absent from the specification is knowledge of existing investment conditions in Antigua & Barbuda , with its well-earned reputation for mal-governance, its history of money laundering, arms trafficking, drugs dealing and harbouring fugitives from justice.
However, overarching this is Antigua & Barbuda's long standing wilful failure to pay foreign private investors a single penny for its vicious expropriation of their property in order to hand it to global fraudster R Allen Stanford and their continued refusal to pay fair and prompt settlement of the debt as ruled by Privy Council.
In the meantime, the owners have been vilified and publicly abused. Those who have had the courage to speak out on their behalf in the media have been threatened, their liberty taken and, along with the owners, have suffered widespread manipulation of the legal system.
Unless and until the matter of expropriation is properly, promptly and fairly settled and overdue interest paid in full, endeavours to achieve legitimate private inward investment will be repressed.
Perhaps, in considering the focus of their support the agencies involved would benefit from sight of the appropriate US Congressional Record and the Privy Council's ruling on the matter of Half Moon Bay?
Even "a minimal amount of goods and related consulting services" is fools' gold and wasted public money but the real damage could be the acquiescent complicity of the Inter-American Development Bank, the United Kingdom Department of International Development and the Canadian International Development Agency in partnership with the Caribbean Development Bank's in aiding a rogue regime harm further legitimate investors.
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