Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley has told an international meeting that many middle income countries “will be pauperized”if they do not have access to concessional funding.
She made the comments today after she was questioned, during a virtual interactive Fireside Chat on the challenges faced by small island developing states (SIDS). The special event on SIDS, LDCs (least developed countries) and LLDCs (landlocked developing countries), was hosted by the United Nations Economic and Social Council.
Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, also participated in the session as Chairman of the Alliance of Small Island States.
Ms. Mottley, who currently co-chairs the World Bank and IMF’s Development Committee, expressed the viewthat there must be a Multidimensional Vulnerability Index (MVI) for all countries.
“If we don’t have it for all countries, then we can’t have an understanding of the relativity and the needs of individual countries. You have to be able to have that comparison….
“Many of our countries, effectively, will be pauperized if we don’t have access to concessional financing, particularly in the middle of a pandemic, in the middle of a climate crisis; for us, in the middle of ash fall coming from the eruption of the La Soufriere Volcano in St. Vincent. All of these…are causing us to be inherently vulnerable, but our vulnerability is not only to climate or environment, it is also socially and it is also economically,” she surmised.
The Prime Minister stressed that the MVI was needed, and said she was hopeful the global community would initially use such criteria and ultimately develop the Index.
She told her audience that two thirds of the world’s poor population did not live in low income countries, but in middle and upper middle income countries.
“So that if we don’t address this issue, we will preclude them from being able to benefit from concessional funding globally. Now that’s not what was intended when the Bretton Woods Institutions were formed; it was intended to help poor people, not simply poor countries.
“And if we penalise middle income and upper middle income countries by refusing to accept these criteria or this Index, which we have been arguing for, for 30 years, then all we’re doing is turning a blind eye to the majority of the world’s poor population,” Ms. Mottley contended.
With regard to access to vaccines, she said tourism-dependent countries needed vaccines to bring them back to economic stability. She explained that the absence of appropriate access to vaccines meant that their recovery efforts were further compromised.
“I would think that there would be an approach by the global community to ensure equity in access, especially according to need. And the needs of those whose economies have been reversed by a decade or more, as a result of this pandemic, ought to at least be able to be given access.
“And what is worse is that the volume of vaccines needed by these countries as small states, because the populations are small, are miniscule in comparison to what is being produced globally,” she indicated.
Ms. Mottley proffered the view that there was an absence of global leadership, an insensitivity to the importance of global coordination and an insensitivity to the value of human lives.