Days ahead of the next plenary meeting of the European Union (EU) during which The Bahamas is expected to be blacklisted again, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis yesterday called for fair play and equitable treatment in the global financial arena.
The prime minister was addressing a virtual UN Meeting of Heads of State and Government on Financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond, which was held as a part of the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.
“On a matter of great importance to The Bahamas, adverse pronouncements by larger economies pertaining to offshore international financial centers, especially against those in small developing countries, further exacerbate economic challenges,” he said.
“Once again, we ask for the support of the United Nations, the relevant international financial institutions and like-minded countries to assist us in our call for fair play and equitable treatment in the global financial arena.”
Following this jurisdiction’s failure to have a regional assessment completed by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) that would have seen the country removed from its gray list, Attorney General Carl Bethel last week said The Bahamas will still be on a European Union blacklist when it is implemented early next month.
The purpose of the special meeting of the UN General Assembly yesterday was to set out a vision for a decade of action and better recovery from COVID-19; to provide a snapshot on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) – which was signed by member states in 2015 – progress; highlight plans and actions to tackle major implementation gaps; and to demonstrate the power and impact of action and innovation by SDG stakeholders.
While noting this country’s appreciation for the efforts made by the UN toward funding and assistance for economies severely impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, the prime minister also lamented that many of the UN’s measures remain largely unavailable to countries like The Bahamas, because of perceived wealth that is measured by inadequate and improper tools.
“The deleterious impacts of climatic events and the current pandemic on the global economy have made it abundantly clear that the outdated methodologies of assessing a country’s wealth are no longer justifiable,” he said.
“Priority must be given to developing a vulnerability index that will inform key policy sectors of international financial institutions, and guide development assistance.”
The prime minister said while financing for development is essential now in the era of COVID-19, it was of critical importance before the pandemic.
“Such funding now assumes even greater priority as we witness economies, large and small, spiraling with uncertainty, operating in constant flux, experiencing fiscal shocks and attaining adverse projections from international financial institutions,” he said.
“This crisis has exposed and exacerbated existing vulnerabilities and inequalities in all countries. Tourism and financial services are the first and second economic pillars of The Bahamas. These industries have been adversely impacted by the downturn in global travel and foreign direct investment, causing concern about the viability of the balance of payments.”
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) already granted a $250 million loan to The Bahamas to be used toward the economic falloff from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest has said the government will seek financing from other multilateral lenders, such as the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the World Bank before the end of the year.