Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley in discussion with Canada’s new High Commissioner to Barbados, Lilian Chatterjee, yesterday. (S. Maughan/BGIS)

Issues relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as small island states and their vulnerabilities, were discussed when Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley was paid a courtesy call by Canada’s new High Commissioner to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean States, Lilian Chatterjee, on Tuesday.

Ms. Mottley told the High Commissioner that a global partnership is needed to fight the pandemic, as she lamented the absence of coordinated global action for the lockdowns, vaccines and distribution of personal protective equipment.

The Prime Minister said access to concessional funds for countries like Barbados was critical and suggested the money should be given on the basis of a country’s vulnerability and not its per capita income. 

She stressed that countries like Barbados who have been graduated to middle income status were experiencing tremendous economic hardships, and proffered the view that the international financial architecture was in dire need of reform. 

“Small states need fiscal space because they have been the victim of all kinds of exogenous shocks…. Small countries are going from pillar to post and all we want is a fair deal and the space to function. We want to be seen and heard,” she insisted.

Ms. Mottley said it was therefore important for the global community to recognise that the Caribbean needed a stabilisation package.

She stated that in addition to the various threats, including the climate crisis and COVID, there was the antimicrobial resistance issue, which she described as a potential silent pandemic. 

She lamented that people were continuing to engage in practices of abuse of antibiotics in humans and animals and expressed regret that there was too little investment in research in this area.  

During the discussions, Ms. Chatterjee commended Prime Minister Mottley for her excellent leadership during the pandemic and the Welcome Stamp initiative, which other countries have now been introducing.

Those attending the courtesy call at Ilaro Court included Counsellor (Political) in the High Commission of Canada, Steve Jaltema; Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office, Alies Jordan, and Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Donna Forde.

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