Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest called on multilateral development banks to implement solutions for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) faced with the economic crises that appear in the wake of natural disasters tied to climate change.
Turnquest, who was speaking at the annual breakfast meeting with governors and alternate governors of the Caribbean Region of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Sunday, contended during his presentation that “The Bahamas and the Bahamian people are expected to bear the burden of a climate crisis we are not responsible for”.
He added that The Bahamas and other SIDS face the same vulnerabilities that will need much more assistance from the international community to address.
“Our suffering is not only personal, it is representative of the vulnerabilities faced by Caribbean nations and SIDS on the whole; it is representative of a new reality that the global community must contend with and more effectively respond to,” he said.
“We are independent nations. We are resilient people, but the promise of multilateralism is that we don’t walk alone, and it is time for our international partners, particularly multilateral development banks, to make changes and implement practical solutions now.”
According to Turnquest, each natural disaster exposes SIDS’s economic resilience and national response, and highlights the need for concessionary financing and the management of mass migration.
Turnquest also lamented the use of the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita model for measuring the needs of countries like The Bahamas when it comes to global financial support.
“Madam managing director, in your opening comments you have expressed your support for a fresh look at concessional finance for economically vulnerable, high income per capita states,” Turnquest said.
“As my colleagues speaking before me have highlighted the related issues already, in the interest of time I would only state that we are gratified by this support and look forward to the continued work of the fund in this regard.
“The rigid methodology that exclusively looks at GDP per capita is a poor proxy for determining the needs of countries, particularly those with heightened vulnerability to exogenous shocks such as back to back catastrophic natural disasters, which makes fiscal planning and debt management particularly difficult.”
He explained to the IMF that while The Bahamas has already put in place a “disaster risk framework for better fiscal management that includes different types and sources of financing, including contingent credit lines, parametric insurance, budgetary savings line items, and restrictions by law on allocation of windfalls from dormant accounts to a disaster fund”, the need for much more concessionary financing will be essential to the sustainability of SIDS’s economies.
“Collectively we must do more ourselves to find creative ways to finance resilience and share resources, but developed nations must share the responsibility for the rehabilitation of economies and nations that are disproportionately impacted,” Turnquest said.