Mottley, Turnquest: World Bank requirements need retooling

Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley recently said that it’s “almost offensive” that The Bahamas cannot access financial resources from the World Bank following Hurricane Dorian due to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) per capita income.

She asked: “Now, how does a world that has a bank that was built to be responsible for reconstruction and development after World War II refuse to accept its responsibility to help countries in the region that are on the frontline of climate crisis to adapt, mitigate or rebuild in a battle that we did not cause and for reasons that relate to whether we have a certain level of GDP per capita?”

Giving the keynote address at the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) conference and trade show, Mottley said she recently gave a series of speeches that spoke to the Caribbean remaining invisible for many outside of the cruise ship industry and “regrettably, for some, dispensable”.

In an interview with The Nassau Guardian, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said he agrees with Mottley.

In the wake of Hurricane Dorian, he said, there ought to be an exception to the rule for international agencies, which is strictly based on income and GDP.

“In fact, if that position is not accepted, then there ought to be some other matrix that also ought to be in the mix – i.e. looking at vulnerability,” he said.

“So, finding an index that can also play into the overall assessment matrix for which countries will qualify versus not qualify for these kinds of concessions, based upon their vulnerability to natural disasters and climate change [and] to economic shock as a result of events that they cannot control.”

The finance minister indicated that for the first time he believes world and multilateral agencies are finally recognizing that what is being said has merit.

This after International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva indicated that she supports the idea of reviewing such requirements, according to the minister.

“Given her background, coming from the World Bank which is a development bank coming over to the IMF which is a financial organization, we will have a relook and a more serious consideration by the international community as to the basis for which these assessments are made,” he said.

“So, I think this is probably the best opportunity we’ve had in a while to be readdressed by all of these agencies and countries.”

The government has collected nearly $7.5 million in donations following Hurricane Dorian, according to Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis.

He added that the government has received $2,714,870.80 from corporate entities, $1,079,965.65 from private entities, $1,951,500 from foreign governments, $503,078.85 from local government, $393,186.94 from intergovernmental agencies, $221,378.01 from non-government organizations, $400,000 from multilateral organizations and $179,958.39 from non-profit organizations.

Minnis also touted the government’s decision to secure a $100 million contingent loan facility from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for natural disasters.

He said $30 million will be used for electrical restoration and infrastructure, $15 million for water restoration, $30 million for social assistance payments and support, $15 million for clean-up, $1 million for evacuation and shelter costs and $9 million for other costs to be determined.

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