By Dave Kaiser
International financial institutions, the G7 and G20 should reevaluate the methodologies used to assess how and whether a country qualifies for concessional support or access to certain international funds, Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris, Prime Minister of Kitts and Nevis told officials meeting for the General Debate of the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly.
“St. Kitts and Nevis, like so many of the Small Island Developing States remains inherently vulnerable due mainly to our small physical size, open economies, dis-economies of scale and small population,” the Prime Minister explained. “As we have seen time and again, a climatic event of a few hours can wreak havoc on every single aspect of life on our islands.”
The Prime Minister pointed out that the arbitrary classification of certain small countries like St. Kitts and Nevis or Dominica, as middle income countries can never make sense – when one of these countries could grow its economy one year by 4 to 6 percent and then watch nearly 100 percent of its GDP wiped out that very same year by a tropical storm with six hours of rainfall. Any new formula must include vulnerability and resilience indices.
“We have in the past asked that a strategy to promote climate financing be addressed and I once again reiterate that call. It means nothing to say that billions of dollars are available for climate financing, if the mechanisms for accessing them are opaque, prohibitive and extremely difficult to penetrate. Again, I urge common sense cooperation and partnership.”
“We are being further marginalized in the global financial system,” Dr. Harris explained. “Already, in the Caribbean, as of the first half of this year, “some 16 banks, across five countries have lost all or some of their correspondent banking relationships putting the financial lifeline of these countries at great risk. In our tourism-dependent economies, where remittances factor greatly in national development, such actions threaten to derail progress, undermine trade, direct foreign investment and repatriation of business profits.”
Meaningful partnerships a key benefit
The Prime Minister pointed out that despite many difficulties, the Government and people of St. Kitts and Nevis have been fortunate to have benefitted from some durable and meaningful partnerships.
“These have been integral to our efforts to build resilience, to transform our country, to modernize our economy, upgrade our workforce, educate our people and empower our citizenry,” Dr. Harris explained. “There have been outstanding models of South cooperation worthy of emulation.”
As examples, Dr. Harris said Cuba’s support to the developing world in education and training, health care, agriculture and heritage development dwarfs the assistance of many economically advanced countries.
Venezuela’s Bolivarian energy outreach through PETRO CARIBE is an important model. There must be a greater commitment to shared prosperity.
In the last three decades, the tangible support of the Government and people of Taiwan has been remarkable. Taiwan has stood shoulder to shoulder with the Government and people of St. Kitts and Nevis and remains steadfast in its commitment to supporting our determination to meet our people-empowerment agenda. He said their help and solidarity touch almost every facet of life in our twin-island Federation.
“These advantages and benefits should not be limited to a few countries,” Dr. Harris said. “I know that Taiwan is eager to share its progress and development successes with the rest of the world. I therefore welcome new opportunities for Taiwan and its people to be warmly welcomed and integrated into the international fraternity of Nations as a global player, whose commitment to the principles of democracy, peace, and people empowerment can touch many more lives.”
“The future of our planet and our citizens cannot be outsourced to any one country or group of countries,” the Prime Minister explained. “These are collective commons that – in today’s highly interdependent and integrated world -demand the full participation of all countries and their citizens.”
The 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly at the United Nations Headquarters in New York convened on Sept. 13 under the theme: “The Sustainable Development Goals: A Universal Push to Transform Our World.” General Debates began on Sept. 20 and will run until Sept. 26.