Prime Minister Hubert Minnis of the Bahamas and Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Irwin LaRocque, are reporting some progress as a result of persistent lobbying.
”That’s a matter we have been discussing with the United Nations and other first world nations and I hope they would see what we are talking about,” Minnis said.
“I think we are getting nearer and nearer to convincing the first world nations that it’s a matter that has to be addressed”.
Two years ago on a visit to Trinidad and Tobago, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzō Abe announced that his country will no longer be granting aid to the region on the basis of per capita income.
LaRocque attributes Japan’s change of heart to the region’s robust opposition to the measure proposed by the European Union (EU).
”Japan no longer makes its aid conditional to capita income and that is solely because of the advocacy the Caribbean has been doing. When we met Prime Minister Abe in Trinidad and Tobago he announced that,” the Caricom Secretary General said.
“At a certain point in the administration of the United States they were considering it. I don’t know what the situation is now. And we are hearing more and more that others are considering it but Japan has taken the lead I want to commend them for that..that per capita income cannot be a basis for doing so”.
Five years ago, at the ACP summit in Equatorial Guinea, then foreign Minister of Trinidad and Tobago’s, Winston Dookeran, led CARICOM’s opposition to the measure, insisting that other factors need to be examined such as poverty levels and external shocks.
The issue has been gaining fresh momentum as a major point of focus in light of the wave of Hurricanes rampaging through the Caribbean this year, leaving a trail of death and destruction as well as battered economies.
Caricom chairman, Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell ,says the region needs to keep up the pressure.
”What we have to do in every forum is to restate the position that we have taken that to graduate countries because of per capita… that formula is a farce,”said Mitchell during a recent trip to Bahamas.
“You can have so many disasters that can take you years to recover”.
CARICOM sits on a US$10-billion budget set aside for the world small states forum which it chairs and which convenes next month in Washington alongside the World Bank and IMF meetings.
The Caricom chairman says the region needs to raise its voice at the Washington meeting by using climate change and disasters to advance the case for increase aid to the region.
“That conference in October in Washington, we should be able to make a tremendous impact as the chair of that important forum,” the Caricom chairman stressed.
“With all the disasters that just occurred it strengthens our hand and strengthens our case that the whole issue of climate change and special resources available for small states like the Bahamas and Grenada and other countries of the Caribbean must be given top priority”.
- Countries: CARICOM