AG advances the agenda of small island states

“We, the victims, suffer more and pay more to the same system that rewards perpetrators with cheap funding – this is the fundamental injustice at the heart of our global debt architecture.


Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum addressing the 2022 ECOSOC Forum on Financing for Development.

Developing countries spend on average five times more than developed countries to service their loans. Often it responds to a crisis that we did not cause.

This was stated by Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum yesterday while addressing members of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) 2022 Forum on Financing for Development.

Since Fiji signed the Paris Agreement in 2015, the country has battled 13 cyclones, which wiped out half of its gross domestic product.

“Citizens of small states have not chosen to be those who suffer the most from global catastrophes that we did not cause. As their leaders, protecting the lives and livelihoods of our people is no less a choice – it is our duty,” he said.

He said that as the first country to sign the agreement, Fiji’s loss was equivalent to a $13 trillion loss to the US economy.

“We, the victims, suffer more and pay more to the same system that rewards perpetrators with cheap funding – this is the fundamental injustice at the heart of our global debt architecture.

Sayed-Khaiyum said the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with Russia’s war on Ukraine, would continue to exploit Fiji’s vulnerability as an island economy.

“Combined, these crises would have driven hundreds of thousands of Fijians into destitution. We didn’t let that happen,” he said.

“We used all the budgetary resources we could muster to react and reset the course towards the 2030 Agenda.

“Any responsible leader would do the same – and yet we and other vulnerable nations are being punished for it by a system of debt architecture that was never designed to meet our needs.”

He said 10% of Fiji’s debt burden was due to weather disasters.

“This is not the 1940s. We are no longer colonies. We are self-determining nations. And ignoring our vulnerabilities only worsens the consequences for us and for the whole market economy,” said said the GA.

“The realities, contexts and affairs of small states have been recognized and enshrined in the rules of the global financial system if we have any chance of achieving the SDGs.

“Fiji has been successful in negotiating low-cost loans and attracting development assistance. We are grateful to our development partners for the confidence they place in our financial management, as evidenced by direct budget support. Now our recovery is moving forward.

“We are building back better, bluer, greener and in even closer collaboration with the private sector and in line with the SDGs.”

He added that climate-vulnerable countries should be empowered to continue to become centers of innovation.

“Fiji supports the call for the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to explore and come up with well-structured debt for nature swaps or other structural finance changes,” he said.

“We urge the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and other multilateral institutions to ensure that eligibility for their climate-related programs and funding is based on our climate vulnerability and not our income status in the OECD.

“We deserve a voice in the long-awaited reform of the global debt architecture. First, the world must choose to hear us.

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Lynn A. Saleh