Jamaica reiterates call for concessionary financing for developing countriesFriday, September 27, 2019
NEW YORK, United States (CMC) – Jamaica on Friday reiterated a call for concessionary financing for Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries saying the present policy was severely hampering the socio-economic growth of the 15-member regional grouping.
Addressing the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Jamaica's Prime Minister Andrew Holness said he is compelled to reiterate the special challenges faced by Highly Indebted Middle-Income Countries (HIMIC) like those in the Caribbean.
“Although poised for economic transition, our potential is seriously constrained by having to choose between high external debt repayment and catalytic growth spending. Furthermore, the current policies that govern access to concessional financing windows do not allow us to access sufficient affordable long-term financing for SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) investment and our capacity to mobilise public resources domestically is limited by our small size and vulnerability.”
Holness said that this touches on the issue of graduation criteria, which do not take account of the range of vulnerabilities facing middle income countries.
“Our economies face further challenges from de-risking and the attendant problem of the loss of correspondent banking relations which severely impede access to essential financial services.”
Caribbean countries have in the past warned that the lack of concessionary financing is hurting their efforts at adequately developing their economies in addition to the blacklisting by some countries mainly Europe that have labelled them as tax havens.
Holness said that in the context of the region's special vulnerabilities, his administration welcomes the mid-term review of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA)] Pathway which presents an opportunity to further operationalise the mandate of the SAMOA Pathway.
“Jamaica is committed to this process and looks forward to the full support of the international community in this regard,” Holness said, adding that his country has successfully implemented a ban on the importation, manufacture or distribution of single use plastic bags, expanded polystyrene and plastic drinking straws.
He said the ban from January 1 this year has served to sensitise the general public to the environmental challenges posed by non-biodegradable litter, especially those that end up in the oceans.
“We are considering expanding the ban, even as we prioritise strengthening our waste management processes. This year we will also launch a national tree planting initiative through which we will plant over three million trees in three years, representing one tree for each Jamaican,” Holness said as he addressed the issue of the impact of climate change.
“We remain committed to the reduction of the erosion of watersheds and the attendant impact on coastal ecosystems. We are partnering with others to ensure that our marine environment, on which our socio-economic survival depends, is being sustainably utilised and managed.”
Holness said that the High Level Panel on the Sustainable Ocean Economy and its resulting call-to-action as well as reports on the oceans as a tool for combating climate change, enjoy the full support of Jamaica.
“We look forward to the convening of the Ocean Conferences next month in Norway, and in Portugal in June 2020,” Holness said, warning that climate change is the single most visible threat facing the global environment.
“Its effects are intensifying, with coastal cities and low-lying island nations facing the greatest risk. The recent devastation wrought by Hurricane Dorian, in the Bahamas reinforces this reality.” Holness said, making reference to the loss of lives and extensive damage to property, infrastructure and livelihoods in the Bahamas.
“Jamaica and other Caribbean islands have first-hand experience of the increase in intensity of hurricanes as well as intermittent increased rainfall and extended periods of droughts. These adverse weather events have resulted in major economic losses and dislocation across the region,” Holness told the international community, adding that his country has adopted several policies and legislative measures.
But he said more action is needed at the national and global levels to urgently tackle climate change, including adequate financing and transformative and scalable programmes.
Holness said Jamaica maintains an “abiding faith in the value of multilateralism” and that every country has a role to play in confronting the challenges that beset the global community.
“This is what continues to inspire Jamaica to contribute its professional and technical expertise to the multilateral process, including at the Council of the International Maritime Organization, as well as the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in 2020.
Holness also said that the United Nations Charter commits the international community to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war and conflicts of all kinds.
“Jamaica, therefore, supports efforts by the Secretary General and his special envoys in Western Sahara, Syria and Myanmar. We also support the efforts towards rapprochement on the Korean Peninsula and discourage any action that would reverse those efforts.
“Additionally, we remain conscious of persistent tensions in the Middle East and Africa, where the attainment of peace and security has been far too elusive.”
Holness called for an end to the trade and economic embargo against Cuba by the United States, adding: “we are equally concerned about the disarmament and proliferation landscape, particularly the gradual dismantling of longstanding disarmament treaties and the implications for international peace and security”.