Barbados joined other Caribbean states on Friday to make a bid to access financing on easier terms based on their vulnerability to climate change and other disasters.
At an online UN high-level political forum on the theme of Mobilizing Well-Directed Financing, Ryan Straughn, Co-Minister of Finance, also called for an international framework that allows for openness, equity and transparency if small developing states are to achieve the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals by the 2030 date.
Straughn urged the international community to take into account the unique challenges island nations face and “a post COVID-19 world” in order to help them diminish the risk against meeting the development agenda benchmarks.
Straughn said: “The reality of the circumstance as it relates to the development of countries like Barbados is that vulnerability is not in any way linked to your economic prospects [or] your level of income and therefore whether large, medium or small countries, we are all vulnerable in some way and I think to the extent that we have been able to respond to first and foremost ensure there is a level of social stability given the unprecedented fall out we expect from COVID-19.
“It is critical that as we reshape the global financing system post-COVID-19 that we pay more attention to what are the key elements that influences vulnerabilities within the context of development.”
Pointing out that the Caribbean has been facing a number of development issues over the past five decades, Straughn explained that region was vulnerable to intense weather systems and other impacts from climate change.
He added: “There are a number of challenges globally that we have to address as nations with respect to how do countries actually execute their development agenda, and therefore our development is not at the expense of others.
“Therefore, we would want to see a very focused approach in terms of addressing the key elements of vulnerability so that the access to financing and the basis on which you are accessing finances will be determined in a sense by that measure of vulnerability.”
The Finance Minister said that having just restructured Barbados’ debt and despite significant declines in government revenue and the tourism earnings as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Barbados’ fiscal situation remained “good”.
Sharing some of the measures taken by the Mia Mottley administration to help maintain a level of economic activity and social cohesion during the coronavirus pandemic, Straughn said Government had responded swiftly by mobilizing available resources to respond to immediate needs and build resilience while ensuring that mechanisms were in place to help individuals and businesses.
He said at the top of mind was the building out of infrastructure that would help to address the issue of poverty.
But Straughn insisted that the developed world had a role to play in ensuring that small, vulnerable states were able to achieve social and economic development while minimising risks.
He also said it was important that issues relating to correspondent banking, anti-money laundering and standards are consistently modelled so that all countries could “move forward under one clear framework” such that policies for growth are inclusive and help countries to deliver on the development agenda.
Representatives from other Caribbean countries also called on international funding agencies to consider debt relief and debt forgiveness of developing countries as they come to terms with the impact from the coronavirus pandemic.
Some officials also called for greater focus to be placed on ensuring gender equity and greater private/public sector collaboration to ensure economic and social development as countries strive to achieve the UN developmental goals.
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