Prime Minister Mia Mottley has called for a new “global leadership initiative” that would change how some decisions are made for more vulnerable countries seeking financial and other assistance in a post-COVID-19 era.
Promoting the decades-old Commonwealth vulnerability index for developing countries as an example that needed to be “revisited”, Mottley today told CNN that “you can’t determine whether we need access to funding”.
Suggesting that the new global leadership initiative would include all world leaders including Pope Francis, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Mottley said the time had long past for a review of how the debt of vulnerable countries were responded to and restructured.
She told CNN: “If there is one thing I would like to see coming out of this is a global leadership initiative.
“Seventy-five years ago the United Nations was formed, we used the opportunity of post-World War II to create a number of vital institutions to be able to bring countries together to protect the most vulnerable and the weakest among us, we have also used it to create the Bretton Woods institutions [the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund] we are relying on.
“But we need to repurpose these organizations and in having a global leadership initiative, make sure that we are really reacting to what is real.”
Barbados, which is currently in a strict four-year IMF funded debt restructuring programme, has long been considered “graduated” from concessionary World Bank funding due to it being considered to having a high per capita income.
Mottey said: “We are told that we can access concessional funding or grant funding only if we have historic per capita incomes that are below certain levels.
“It is absolutely futile, and we have been carrying on this thesis and argument for over 30 years.
“We also had problems when the World Trade Organization was formed. We recognized that for example, that much of our domestic production would shut down and it would make us more open.”
Citing other international occurrences that led to new sanctions and rules, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) chairman insisted that the African, Caribbean and Pacific regions were tired of the one-size-fits-all approach that they were being imposed on them
She said: “Now we have this pandemic, we need global leadership similar to what we had post World War II to be able to recognize that we need a plan that protects not just the strongest among us, but also the most vulnerable, and what should we be spending money on.
“Does it make sense to continue to build large military constructs when as a result of a mosquito or pandemic our population can be put at risk, it doesn’t make any sense.”
During the interview with CNN senior global correspondent Christiane Amanpour, Mottley described the COVID-19 pandemic as perhaps the most destabilising for Barbados and the rest of the region since World War II, adding that now was a peculiar moment for the Caribbean.
She said: “We hope we can summon the rest of the global community to recognize that it is now more than ever that global leadership is needed and that we need to accept that these islands as well as those in the South Pacific are vulnerable.”
She said in addition to the pandemic, the Caribbean also had to grapple with high debt, hurricanes and ensuring food security.
The Prime Minister pointed out that the health care system in the region had been repurposed to adequately deal with the issues relating to COVID-19.
However, she said the shutdowns were perhaps the biggest pain to individuals and businesses.
Mottley said: “To have a hotel with no revenue coming in, to have no airplanes landing, from Jamaica and the Bahamas in the north to Barbados and Trinidad to the south, these things are having a devastating impact particularly on the smaller islands in the Eastern Caribbean and to a lesser extent Barbados.
“So we have now to see how we can hold our people up, because if you don’t have a successful neighbourhood, all of us are at risk in terms of public health, security and migration. So that we really need to be able to understand that this is about lives and livelihoods, this is about staving off the pandemic, but it is also about keeping people fed and keeping people being able to live.”