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Caribbean, SIDS need better access to international financing

THE Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia will conclude in three days, and United Nations Assistant Secretary-General Jessica Faieta is calling for a review on how Caribbean Small Island Developing States access international financing.
“We are calling for improved standards that take into account ‘multidimensional progress’ indicators, or well-being measurements beyond income alone,” Faieta noted in a press release from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Guyana is categorised by international standards as a Small Island Developing States (SIDS) along with 38 other countries in the Caribbean, Pacific, Asia and Africa. The title is used to describe countries which are similar in social, economic, and environmental conditions.

“These include people’s inadequate access to essential services such as safe water, sanitation and health, as well as, citizen security (crime and violence), unemployment, climate vulnerability, widening income gaps and continuous emigration of highly educated and training people,” she said.
Faieta, who also serves as the UNDP’s Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, called for the development-financing criterion to take into consideration “substantial problems” faced by Caribbean nations, in spite of their rank in development assessments.

“Having lived and worked in four Caribbean countries,” Faieta said in the statement, “I have witnessed first-hand how these vibrant societies with enormous potential share serious challenges, from severe exposure, to natural hazards and external financial shocks, to slow economic growth and high debt.”

She highlighted this against the reality that most Caribbean SIDS are ranked as middle-income countries with per capita income levels above the international financial eligibility benchmark, for which “they are shunned from receiving development financing.”

The statements from the UNDP Latin America and Caribbean Director comes in the face of some countries in the region not being able to reach the goals of the 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), even as the deadline for accomplishing this has passed, with world-focus shifting to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

A new UNDP report, titled “Financing for Development Challenges in Caribbean SIDS: A case for review of eligibility criteria for access to concessional financing” has found that the traditional international standards for development financing are inadequate measurements of countries’ sustainable development needs.

That report will be launched this week at the Ethiopia Conference, where President David Granger addressed the opening plenary session on Monday. The report outlines the challenges to Caribbean countries being able to access Official Development Assistance (ODA).

“The world has a unique opportunity to change this and help improve the lives and the future aspirations of Caribbean women and men,” the UN official said, acknowledging the Conference, which will set out the financing agenda for the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.

“Some of our recommendations include lending to regional and sub-regional development banks- which are more in-line with the post-2015 sustainable development agenda,” the release stated.

Another proposed remedy is for the strengthening of the role of development banks, which are integral to boosting the resilience of the Caribbean, and the Region’s ability to absorb external shocks without major social and economic setbacks.

The UN official also called for the Caribbean and countries hosting the Caribbean Diaspora to improve arrangements for cross-border financial transactions, which would facilitate remittance payments as well as investments.

Courtesy: Guyana Chronicle

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