Barbados has called for the provision of whatever financing – budgetary support and or balance of payments – required to end the COVID-19 pandemic, be made available to all developing states.
Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Ryan Straughn, made the call today as he virtually addressed the 2021 ECOSOC (United Nations Economic and Social Council) Forum on Financing for Development.
Mr. Straughn told the meeting, which has a virtual and in-person format, that vaccine equity is a critical feature of the necessary financing required to end the pandemic.
He continued: “If small developing nations were invisible to the developed world before, no one can pretend they do not see us now, or are not aware of our vulnerabilities.
“We must come to the reality and the understanding that with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, all the parts need to be fixed to make the world whole again, and especially for developing countries and small island developing states, access to concessional financing is needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Maybe not by 2030, but shortly thereafter.”
The Minister proffered the view that the adoption of a Multidimensional Vulnerability Index that goes beyond the current inadequate GDP per capita assessment would significantly help to improve access to financing at a reasonable cost.
He also told his audience that a decision must be reached regarding debt from the pandemic. “We must agree on a clear framework, that once the pandemic is over, that all COVID-19 related debt be converted to at least 50-year-instruments to avoid a significant debt overhang for all developing countries.
“If we do this, then we would have created the fiscal space required to address the still critical issues related to financing climate change, infrastructural development to build resilience and addressing poverty,” he indicated.
Mr. Straughn said these meetings allowed the participants to “do the right thing” and ensure the concessional financing necessary for development “is finally made available to all”.
During his brief address, the Minister also spoke about the eruption of the La Soufriere Volcano in St. Vincent and its negative impact on Barbados and other neighbouring CARICOM countries. He gave the assurance that Barbados would provide support to the country at this difficult juncture.
“The last time this volcano erupted in St. Vincent was 42 years ago. Between then and now, St. Vincent had made significant strides in its development and now this one event will significantly impact its development trajectory.
“This has been the familiar story of too many Caribbean nations, but this is the reality of countries that lie between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, in what would be best described as the Belt of Vulnerability, as we all fall prey to acts of force majeure,” Minister Straughn said.