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PM Chastanet: Appointment of Dr. Leon to CDB Presidency an Achievement for Saint Lucia and the OECS

The Government of Saint Lucia joins all OECS Member States in congratulating Dr. Hyginus “Gene” Leon on being appointed president of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). The appointment of Dr. Leon marks the second time that a Saint Lucian has been called upon to head this prestigious regional institution.

Dr. Gene Leon President of CDB

Reacting to the news of the appointment, Saint Lucia’s Prime Minister Honourable Allen Chastanet congratulated Dr. Leon and stated:  “This is an especially proud moment for Saint Lucia, as Dr. Leon follows in the footsteps of one illustrious son of Saint Lucian soil – our Nobel Laureate Sir William Arthur Lewis.  In fact this is truly a proud moment for all OECS Member States as we believe that we need strong representation for our region.”

Prime Minister Chastanet went on: “As an OECS citizen, we know that Dr. Leon, will bring his qualifications, vast experience and keen intellect to the Bank as well as strategic and transformational perspectives, coupled with action-oriented leadership so critical for attainment of the Region’s developmental outcomes.”

Prime Minister Chastanet noted that Dr. Leon has attained this presidency at a time when Members, particularly the smallest and most vulnerable, are in dire need of a new and more constructive relationship with financial institutions.

“This relationship must take cognizance of our peculiar position as small States and must demonstrate keen sensitivity to our concerns.  Moreover, borrowing and non-borrowing Members alike are currently confronting the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the ongoing threat posed by climate change. These challenges demand the most creative, most effective, real time responses, developed in an atmosphere of cooperation, consultation and concerted action. We very much look forward to working with him on the development agenda for the region. I invite all Saint Lucians and OECS citizens to join me in extending congratulations to Dr. Leon.”

He added: “Over the years the Caribbean Development Bank has been an important partner in Saint Lucia’s development with loans, grants and various forms of technical assistance.”

Prime Minister Chastanet noted that Dr. Leon’s appointment was coming at the very time that Saint Lucia was honouring Sir Arthur and the other distinguished Saint Lucian Nobel Laureate, the late Sir Derek Walcott with the annual Nobel Laureate Festival. Dr. Leon was in Saint Lucia in 2016 to deliver the Sir Arthur Lewis Memorial Lecture during the Festival of that year. During his delivery, Dr. Leon expressed the view that Saint Lucia needed to capitalize on its comparative advantage in such key areas as patenting some of its intellectual property and outsourcing it to larger developed countries that can produce goods and services.

Image of Prime Minister Allen Chastanet
Prime Minister Allen Chastanet

When he assumes the CDB presidency on May 1, 2021, Dr. Leon will succeed Dr. Warren Smith who has been at the helm of the regional financial institution for the last 10 years. Dr. Leon has over 30 years of experience in economic development and has worked with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for over two decades. At the IMF, he served as Mission Chief for the Gulf States of Oman, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates as well as The Bahamas, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe. The Saint Lucian national was also an Associate Professor at State University of New York at Old Westbury in the United States. In addition he served as Director of Research at the Central Bank of Barbados and Country Economist at CDB. Leon holds a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Economics from the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom (UK). He also holds a Bachelor of Science Degree (B.Sc.) in Economics from the University of London.

Dr. Leon has over 30 years of experience in economic development. He has worked with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for over two decades. At the IMF, he served as Mission Chief for the Gulf States of Oman, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates as well as The Bahamas, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe. Dr. Leon’s research interests include economic modeling and forecasting, and risk management.

In a reaction to his appointment, Dr. Leon said: “I am deeply honoured by the trust that the Board of Governors has demonstrated in my experience and ability. The CDB remains an instrumental partner in regional development. I look forward to working with all Member States and a tremendous staff with zeal and unrelenting commitment.”

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