PM highlights vicious recovery mode cycle for small island states at 75th UNGA – Eye Witness News

NASSAU, BAHAMAS— Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis questioned the use of “outdated methodologies” for assessing middle-income countries as he highlighted the “vicious circle of recovery mode” faced by small island states during a speech at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

Normally held at UN offices in New York, the 75th annual session of the UNGA is being held virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a video address today, the Prime Minister said that assessments by international financial institutions take no account of a country’s level of exposure, vulnerability and ability to recover from exogenous shocks.

He argued that small island states are under constant onslaught of external shocks beyond their control, including the Caribbean countries, which he said are part the most disaster-prone areas in the world.

Minnis said, “Therefore, the compelling question remains as to why middle-income countries are still being assessed by international financial institutions using outdated methodologies that take no account of the level of exposure, vulnerability and capacity to a country to recover from exogenous shocks.

The Prime Minister further noted Estimates of the impact of COVID-19 indicate that development achievements in the Caribbean and Latin America have been reversed by at least a decade.

“World Bank projections indicate that at least 100 million people will fall into extreme poverty,” he said.

“I therefore reiterate the call for the institutionalization of a vulnerability index in the decision-making processes of international financial institutions and the international donor community. I also echo the region’s call for the capitalization of a Caribbean Resilience Fund.

Minnis pointed out the decision of the G20 group to suspend the debt service of the least developed countries.

He said the concession is commendable and called for it to be extended to other economic groupings.

The Prime Minister acknowledged that the assembly met at a time when the world is still reeling from the “seismic level” shocks the virus has unleashed on the global community.

He continued that the pandemic has triggered an unprecedented crisis that has halted global economic activity and threatened global public health and social well-being, as he expressed solidarity with member states.

Minnis reflected on her burden to the global community in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian last year.

At the time, he urged world leaders to treat the global climate emergency as the greatest challenge facing humanity.

Little did we know that a few months later an even greater challenge would arise, bringing the world to a screeching halt, in a scale not seen since World War II,” he said.

Minnis highlighted the impact of the virus – and subsequent border closures – on the tourism sector as the country’s main economic driver.

He said the temporary closure had caused one of the biggest drops in visitors since the advent of the modern tourism model.

Minnis also noted the ripple effect that the slowdown in economic activity has had on the private sector, leading to an unprecedented rise in unemployment and social needs.

He highlighted the efforts of the National Food Distribution Program, the largest feeding program in the country’s history.

Minnis said, “Small island developing countries like the Bahamas still appear to be operating in a vicious cycle of recovery mode, having to deal with successive exogenous shocks and climatic events.”

He pointed to successive major hurricanes and the $3.4 billion in losses and damages suffered due to Dorian – the largest Atlantic storm in recent history.

In January, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) coordinated a donors’ conference with more than $1.5 billion pledged in aid.

Earlier this month, Iram Lewis, Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness, Management and Recovery, revealed that the country had only received $364,000 in cash donations.

During his remarks, Minnis expressed the government’s appreciation for all the pledges of financial resources and assistance made at the conference.

“My government looks forward to the full realization of the pledges made as they are critical to our ongoing recovery efforts,” he said.

Regarding the fight against COVID-19, Minnis said the country remains cautiously optimistic for a viable vaccine in the “not too far future”.

Highlighting the collaborative efforts of the COVAX facility to secure arrangements for developing countries, the Prime Minister argued that developing countries should be able to access vaccines through a transparent procurement process at affordable market rates.

He hailed frontline workers as “true heroes”, who sacrificed their own health to help tens of millions around the world.

Minnis said the country was still formulating the The Bahamas is gradually reopening to visitors, adding that she hoped to welcome “a few tourists” this year.

He added that no country can survive this pandemic alone, and reiterated the country’s support for the end of the economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba.

Minnis said the Bahamas would join the international community in voting in favor of the annual General Assembly resolution on this agenda item.

During his speech, tThe Prime Minister also highlighted the unprecedented global climate and environmental challenges, in particular the 85% decline in viable wetlands around the world.

He welcomed the programming of a biodiversity summit on September 30 and expressed the country’s commitment to playing its part in preserving a healthy marine and terrestrial environment through the expansion of marine protected areas and heritage sites.

Minnis added that the country will seek to renew its membership in the Council of the International Maritime Organization.

Lynn A. Saleh