The categorization of small island developing states (SIDS) that may be high income but also highly vulnerable to economic shocks from natural disasters – like The Bahamas – needs to be re-evaluated by the international community, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said yesterday at the annual meeting of Commonwealth Ministers of Finance in Washington, DC.
Turnquest remarked at the meeting that the vulnerabilities of SIDS need to be better addressed internationally in order to bolster these countries against the effects of climate change.
“In this regard the promotion of green bonds, social bonds and other financing options to address climate resilience in particular, is critical and useful as is the need to reassess the categorization of high income/highly vulnerable small island developing states,” said Turnquest in a press release from the Ministry of Finance.
“It is also critical to address in a real way the challenges posed by the risk evaluations of SIDS and offshore financial centers, the effects of which go further than just tax transparency and tax competition, to real risk to financial stability of member states and access to correspondent bank relationships and cross border trade on which we depend.
“Adjustments must be made to protocols to ensure that unfair and negative risk assessments that cannot be reasonably mitigated without creating another more predictive disaster, one of financial collapse due to uncompetitiveness of otherwise stable countries, is minimized.”
Turnquest added in his address to the Commonwealth ministers that developed countries are now faced with not only the existence of economic refugees from jurisdictions like The Bahamas, but now also climate refugees.
“Our recent experience shows that quite apart from economic migration, which we are familiar with in our region, disasters are posing a new risk and burden on neighboring states,” Turnquest said.
“Protocols and who, what and where considerations must now make its way onto the front page of climate risk considerations as these realities become more and more relevant.”
Turnquest implored the Commonwealth Secretariat to help SIDS facing similar challenges to overcome them. He also thanked the member countries for their assistance in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, which devastated Grand Bahama and Abaco.
“It is the government’s commitment to ensure continued accountability and transparency in this regard, as we reach out for further global support to address this recovery challenge and to face the daunting task of making tangible steps to implement the resilience lessons learned from this experience,” he said.