Caribbean Countries Call For Paradigm Shift in International Financing

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith (Photo via JIS)

SANTIAGO, Chile, Aug 5, CMC – Caribbean countries have renewed their call for a paradigm shift in international financing that would allow them to immediately respond to the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Barbados Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Dr. Jerome Walcott, along with his Jamaican counterpart, Kamina Johnson Smith, participated in the virtual meeting of the 35th session of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) Committee of the Whole on Tuesday.

The regional countries argued that the shift would enable the achievement of the region’s sustainable development.

ECLAC said the meeting – in which 37 of ECLAC’s member countries participated along with six associate members – allowed for Cuba to hand over the Presidency Pro Tempore to Costa Rica.

ECLAC executive secretary, Alicia Bárcena, described the economic and social panorama in Latin America and the Caribbean, and explained the commission’s priorities for confronting the region’s most pressing challenges in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bárcena stressed the importance of cooperation and the role of international financial institutions for the region’s post COVID-19 recovery.

She said that financing for development in the era of the pandemic and beyond will necessitate collective action.

“More must be done, both in terms of scope and magnitude, to overcome this systemic crisis and ensure a recovery in line with the (United Nations) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” she said, adding that promoting equality is critical for controlling the pandemic, and ensuring a sustainable and green economic recovery.

Bárcena said that to build back better, “expansive fiscal policies will be needed, maintaining fiscal stimulus and avoiding austerity measure” and that more progressive and efficient taxation systems are also needed to eliminate evasion, along with new fiscal and social compacts.

Bárcena said that regional cooperation is “more urgent than ever,” stressing the need to provide public goods to society.

“We are at a civilising crossroads that demands that we renovate our institutions. We have to create a global social compact.It will be necessary to revamp our development model, not losing the links to the 2030 (UN) Agenda and building more resilient societies,” she added.

Additionally, the senior United Nations official highlighted the role of Cuba as chair of ECLAC and welcomed Costa Rica, which will organize the 38th session of ECLAC, scheduled to take place on October 26-28, 2020 via virtual means.

“This will be a historic meeting in which we hope to endorse the importance of multilateralism, cooperation and mutual understanding to overcome together this tragedy that is hitting us relentlessly and to once again stress the urgency of a sustainable transformation, with equality at its center, for a better future in which life is truly worth living for millions of our compatriots,” Bárcena said.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship of Costa Rica, Rodolfo Solano, said given the magnitude of the pandemic  “only by working together will we be able to ensure better results, leaving no one behind.”

He urged that international cooperation and multilateral organisations design new technical and financial instruments to support developing countries that are facing fiscal pressure.

In this nexus, Solano pointed to the strategy of UN Secretary-General António Guterres who, along with the prime ministers of Jamaica and Canada, is calling for expanding funding instruments and analysing the sustainability of the debt of countries, such as those in the Caribbean, which do not have the financial wherewithal to tap markets.

“This is a valuable opportunity that we must not let pass by to work on needed transformational changes, to make progress on our development agendas and to adequately confront the effects of the crisis,” Solano said.

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