Addressing a forum entitled “Towards a new classification for Caribbean economies,” at the XII Ministerial Forum for Development in Latin America on Tuesday, Ambassador July observed that “there is an urgent need for a re-think of the criteria for graduating countries, in which the vulnerability element must play a major part, while at the same time, providing avenues for building resilience.”
Ambassador Todd was representing Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hugh Todd who had accompanied President Mohamed Irfaan Ali, to the Thirteenth Special Emergency Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) where the Guyana/Venezuela border dispute was high on the agenda..
Ambassador July noted that in CARICOM countries like elsewhere, collapsing revenue streams, together with the imperative to massively increase public spending, as a result of the pandemic has resulted in overwhelming budget deficits. Many of these countries have been classified as Middle-Income Countries by the skewed criteria used for graduating countries, economically.
The forum was organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Government of the Republic of Colombia under the theme “COVID -19- Beyond Recovery. Towards a new social contract for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC).”
In expressing concern for the lack of access to finance for many vulnerable countries in the region, Ambassador July observed that “This results in the exclusion of many deserving countries of the sub -region from accessing much-needed assistance in the fight to overcome vulnerabilities, which is one of the foundations on which resilience is built.”
He said “some of these vulnerabilities include the effects of climate change, the volatility of markets, including dependence on single products, or a narrow range of products as main revenue earners.
Against this background, “there is a need to have a re-think of per capita income as a main criterion for graduating countries, from which many Caribbean countries suffer,” the Ambassador concluded.
The three-day forum, which took place from January 12-14 2021, focused on social protection and fiscal systems for more inclusive and resilient societies, private digitization initiatives for development, effective governance beyond recovery, and the strengthening of effective governance, among other areas.
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