Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley has again expressed disappointment that middle income countries have been excluded from concessionary financing.
Ms. Mottley made the comments last evening as she addressed the Sixtieth Anniversary Celebration of the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, for Heads of State.
She noted that this is regrettable, especially since some of those middle income countries were being affected by climate change.
She continued: “The sad part of the news is that we continue to be excluded from other forms of concessionary financing because we are a middle income country. The travesty of that is seen when we look at the 50,000 climate refugees that have had to move from Abaco and Grand Bahama into the rest of the Bahamas because they have simply lost all ability to sustain themselves on those islands.
“… We hope this example will motivate those who have the ability to make the changes to ensure that people are not denied access to funding because of a rough, crass measurement of GDP, but that we truly look at what is their vulnerability and what is their ability to survive the kinds of threats that we are seeing.”
The Prime Minister told her audience that Barbados had set an ambitious target of becoming a fossil fuel free nation by 2030, as she described this move as a “modest contribution” to climate change.
She added that Government would seek to have more than a million trees planted next year, as well as focus its infrastructural projects to those which are transformational.
“And in our case, we have chosen the transformational project of roofs to reefs because our roofs are exposed at a time when codes were not strong enough to guarantee their stability and our reefs continue to be destroyed because of global warming and acidification. We, therefore, hope to work with the Bank to better refine how we become resilient,” she stated.
Ms. Mottley stressed that there was a need to look at natural disaster clauses in financial instruments. She noted that when Barbados restructured its debt, its officials insisted that natural disaster clauses be included, explaining that was done because in the midst of a strong climatic event, there would probably be a default.
She expressed the view that the cost of insurance would soon become prohibitive for people in the region, pointing out that some businesses spent 20 per cent of their expenditure on insurance premiums.
She surmised that insurance premiums in the northern Caribbean would significantly rise because of the claims that would flow from Hurricane Dorian, which recently affected parts of the region.
Ms. Mottley suggested that it was necessary to determine if the insurance pool should be spread to include countries from Central America, the entire Caribbean region, the Gulf States and eastern seaboard of the USA and the eastern provinces of Canada, as well as the coastal states of Latin America, which are exposed to flooding.
“What are the regulatory barriers that have to be removed to bring about that [pool] because if people can’t afford insurance, the reinsurers will not get any business and if the reinsurers don’t get any business, there is a lose-lose proposition on the table,” she stated.
The Prime Minister praised IDB for its assistance, saying its support of education and coastal defence work had brought about changes in the country.
She thanked the IDB for giving Barbados access to a tool that allows it to map hazards, risks and vulnerabilities, thus providing greater certainty to utilize scarce resources in a meaningful way.