Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has voiced support for the conversion of debt into investment in resilience, in cases like the Bahamas.
The Bahamas was recently devastated by the passage of Hurricane Dorian.
United Nations Secretary–General António Guterres who visited the hurricane-ravaged country last week presented the debt to investment in resilience idea.
“Right now crisis is an overused word,” Prime Minister Chastanet told reporters outside parliament Tuesday morning.
He explained that Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in particular are frustrated since the advent of hurricanes Maria and Irma.
“We had advocated for a change. One, if you recall, was that the OECD reclassify us using the vulnerability index,” Chastanet stated.
He said the problem is that the OECD is using per capita GDP to determine whether in fact you can get what we call development assistance,” he explained.
Chastanet said in the case of the Bahamas, the country is considered to be advanced.
“The part that we need to keep reminding everyone is that is it only 370,000 people,” he explained.
Chastanet noted that the hurricane damage in Abacos and Grand Bahama has been estimated at more than 8 billion dollars.
He asserted that per capita GDP is not an accurate measurement to determine risk.
“The other thing is that we would have a dedicated fund. There was no money specifically being set aside for SIDS,” he disclosed.
“As you recall, at the COP meeting where the Paris accord was signed it was agreed that they would raise about 100 billion dollars a year to both fund mitigation, which is the reduction of of emissions as well as adaptation which is to build up resilience,” the Saint Lucia PM observed.
But he said the money has not been forthcoming.
“The third part is that if in fact we are going to be using money from development agencies, we can change the protocols. So right now it takes on average five years to get a project approved to implementation and given the fact that hurricanes are happening now on a regular basis and we don’t even have to wait for the hurricane season to be impacted, we feel that something needs to happen much quicker.”
In terms of debt, Chastanet indicated that if SIDS have to go out and borrow money and it becomes part of the national debt, there would be implications for other parts of the economy.
“So I think that the UN Secretary General is 100 percent correct. The most immediate thing that could help is if some of our multilateral debt could be converted into money that we can now use for infrastructural development,” the PM stated.