• 29 SEP 2020

Prime Minister’s Statement – UN High-Level Event on Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond

Prime Minister Dr the Hon Keith Rowley participated in a virtual UN High-Level Event on Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond which was convened by the Prime Ministers of Canada and Jamaica and the Secretary-General of the United Nations. See the Prime Minister’s statement at the meeting today below:

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the profound fragilities of our interconnected economies and societies. It has brought to the forefront the urgent need for global collective action to save lives, safeguard livelihoods and weather the worst global recession since the Great Depression.

The global economic crisis has landed heavily on the developing world, with Small Island Developing States (SIDS), such as Trinidad and Tobago and our Caribbean neighbours, facing the harshest socioeconomic fallout from disruptions and plummeting demand in the tourism and energy sectors.

While Trinidad and Tobago has limited the pervasive effects of the crisis on its economy, Small Island Developing States are on the edge of the economic precipice, and our hard-earned development progress is in severe peril as the prospects of increased poverty, unemployment and debt crises loom almost inevitably. If we do not act, how many more of our dreams and aspirations must now be deferred or abandoned?

We are heartened by the developments and decisions on the suspension of debt service payments and the support provided by our international partners to some countries. However, we must now capitalise on the opportunity of this crisis and, without delay, transform our international economic and financial system to “build back better” for a more sustainable and resilient future.

In our commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations, we are reminded of the willingness of nations to uphold the Charter’s collective ideals and principles, which charted a new course for mankind. Therefore, at this crossroad, we must also play our part in ensuring that no one is left behind by abandoning the antiquated and dysfunctional approaches that have stifled development

The application of antiquated income-based criteria renders many CARICOM countries ineligible to access crucial recovery support and development assistance in a region that is already facing the adverse impact of ongoing restrictions on correspondent banking relations and arbitrary blacklisting. With the economic contractions and rising levels of debt, a multi-dimensional vulnerability index to accurately reflect the special development cases of Small Island Developing States is an imperative that must not be underestimated.

As small island nations continue to bear the brunt of the COVID-19 crisis, designing innovative response mechanisms, strengthening financial instruments, and scaling up public-private partnerships and investments will be critical to releasing the socio-economic pressures. The enabling environment must be created to maintain economic gains, reinforce resilience, and guide development progress.

Therefore, the policy options before us present an opportunity to deliberately address the systemic inequities that are deeply engrained in our global economic architecture. More importantly, it illustrates the need to entrench greater sensitivity to the varying needs of countries like Small Island Developing States, and that new voices, representing more of humanity, is required in driving the global economy towards resurgence and sustainability.

In closing, I thank the Prime Ministers of Canada and Jamaica, as well as the United Nations Secretary-General, for their leadership and indispensable efforts in convening this global discourse on financing for development for the COVID-19 era and beyond. In this extremely interconnected world, it is our collective resources, ingenuity, willingness and action that will keep us on course to building a global community that is healthier, resilient and more prosperous.

Excellencies, Colleagues I thank you.