World Leaders Summit – Dialogue II – Inequality – Is the COVID-19 crisis really a game-changer? – October 5, 2021. (UNCTAD)

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley has expressed the view that much of the inequality being faced by some countries across the world is not only because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

She made this point clear today as she participated in the UNCTAD World Leaders’ Summit on Inequality, at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

Ms. Mottley said: “COVID has just laid it (the inequality) bare in a very stark way and has exacerbated it for sure.  But the bottom line is that we have a level of inequality and poverty that is a hangover from colonial days and pre-independence days….

“And, …even though we have achieved much, the truth is that the economic environment within which we’ve been forced to function has not necessarily given us the tools to be able to do so,” she pointed out.

Describing the pandemic as a “cataclysmic event”, she said countries such as Barbados have not had the capacity to pump the level of fiscal stimuli into their economies.  

She added that even when more money was put in, the countries’ capacity to resume the development trajectory post pandemic would be constrained.  The Prime Minister underscored the importance of refinancing the COVID debt into long-term developmental instruments. 

Ms. Mottley continued: “We too will have a difficulty in being able to pursue post COVID recovery and to reduce the inequalities that have been made more stark by COVID if we do not find a way of having these long-term instruments take some of the immediate pressures of debt service off of us….

“This COVID comes at a time when it is going to lead, I believe, to a fundamental rethink of the international financial architecture, as well as some of the instruments that are necessary for us to be able to pursue development. And if we don’t do it, regrettably, we’re going to see literally a cementing of people back into poverty, at the very time that we were expecting to see movement towards the sustainable development goals.”

During the meeting, the Prime Minister reiterated that global, moral strategic leadership was required.

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