Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Help small and vulnerable states, PM Kamla urges UN

PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar at the UN on Monday
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar urged the United Nations General Assembly Monday to provide concessional financing for Small States, which she said is still inadequate. A facility for the highly-indebted disaster prone middle income countries is missing, she said. 

She was speaking on Thematic debate The UN and Global Economic Governance in New York. 

She noted that the economic and social prognosis for Small States is "precipitous" since such states, particularly in the CARICOM Region, remain highly susceptible to external shocks. 

"With dwindling donor support and the erosion of trade preferences for agriculture, we in CARICOM need to simultaneously engage several strategies to ensure our survival," she said. 

She outlined someof the requirements for Small States, including those of CARICOM:
  • Concessional financing for infrastructural development 
  • Access to markets for our products including tourism 
  • Debt relief for highly indebted countries and 
  • Technology transfer 
She said unlike large economies that have time and mass, small economies like those of Trinidad and Tobago and CARICOM have neither and therefore flexibility to adjust becomes a daily resolve. 

"More importantly for our Region, is the matter of external buffers, that are largely put in place by institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, which provide lines of credit to economies facing external shocks. 

"However those apparent safeguards may yet be inadequate to resolve the problems not only of the Caribbean, but also for many small economies worldwide. 

"It is for this reason that Trinidad and Tobago has taken the initiative to start a conversation within the Governance of International Monetary Fund to ensure that small economies are given a political presence in the deliberations of such bodies," the PM stated.

She added that while global economic governance must adequately address the concerns of advanced countries, emerging countries, developing countries and small states such a governance structure is only a dream to which states must sincerely aspire. 

The Prime Minister said there is urgent need for a platform where the dialogue on issues concerning small states and low income countries (LDCs) could be incorporated at the global level in organizations like the G-20, the IMF, the World Bank and international agencies/bodies.

"The voice of the small states and LDCs must also be taken into consideration in the discussions on improving the global economic governance," she said.

The Prime Minister reiterated Trinidad and Tobago’s position to the IMF regarding the issues impacting small economies:

  • Changes to the international architecture in which the IMF and G20 sit, lend themselves to a potential contravention of natural justice where clubs of large countries sit and develop rules for smaller states to follow without adequate consultation, considerations and engagement with small states
  • The development of international financial regulation, supervision risk management and the assessment of financial sectors do not support a level playing field between small and large states
  • The preferential treatment given to areas important in some large states - from mortgages and regional bands to hybrid capital - treatment that proved so dangerous in the financial crisis, also penalizes institutions in small states beyond economic justification
  • The criteria of lending used by the multinational institutions is better suited to larger states with capital markets, credit ratings and diversified private sector players
  • The criteria used for long-term and short-term support pays too much attention to the level of GDP per capita and not sufficiently enough to the much higher levels of fragility and vulnerability to natural and economic shocks. 

She called on the Managing Director of the IMF and the President of the World Bank to intensify attention on the issues of small, open, vulnerable countries.

She reminded world leaders of the position articulated by the G24 central bank officials and finance ministers last year at the IMF-World Bank Annual General Meetings that 
global economic governance and reform must reflect the growing role of "emerging market developing countries as a whole in the global economy, while enhancing the voice and representation of poor and small low and middle income countries."

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai