ST. JOHN’S, Antigua and Barbuda – 23rd September, 2020…….Prime Minister the Hon. Gaston Browne, today during a UN Sustainable Development Goals Business Forum on the impact of COVID-19 on local economies and opportunities for companies to support SIDS priorities for building back better and the role of the private sector in the rebuilding effort, made an appeal for greater engagement with the private sector in addressing the challenges of building back better and achieving the SDGs.
Prime Minister Browne, who will take up the Chairmanship of the Alliance of Small Island States AOSIS in January of next year, outlined that any response to COVID-19 must be done in collaboration with a commitment to a comprehensive global recovery strategy which will ensure that vulnerable countries receive the necessary tools and financing.
“A rapid recovery also requires a shared responsibility with the private sector to deliver more resilient and inclusive societies that will be built back better,” he said.
The country’s leader also told UN officials and members of the US and international business communities that there is the need for urgent action by International Finance Institutions and the private sector to play meaningful roles in the recovery from the pandemic and to develop bespoke and differentiated financial products based on the special circumstances of countries.
He noted that Antigua and Barbuda and other small island states in the Caribbean are facing not only solvency problems, but a liquidity problem as well brought on by the pandemic.
“Unlike large states, SID’s do not have the capacity of quantitative easing to bail out their economies and should be treated differently based on their vulnerabilities. The Caribbean needs the private sector to join the international financial institutions to assist in the recovery by contributing to the special COVID 19 recovery fund which was developed by the United Nations,” Prime Minister Browne pointed out.
He also stated that the private sector also has an opportunity to get on board in the call for an alternative creative financing model. “Whether these are debt swaps, as being promoted by the, Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean or a special window for SIDS, or the moving forward of the idea of creating an independent public credit rating agency that will take into account the vulnerabilities of countries,” he said.
“We owe it to future generations to work together and build back better from COVID-19 and base our recovery from the pandemic on a solid foundation. The Sustainable Development Goals are pivotal to this endeavor,” Prime Minister Browne concluded.
As the United Nations continue its High-Level Meetings and meeting of the General Assembly virtually, Prime Minister Browne will next speak on Thursday (11:30 – 12:50 via UN TV) as one of twelve world leaders at a specially organized event of the UN Secretary General. He will also speak on Tuesday 29th at the world leaders meeting on financing to build back better speaking on behalf of AOSIS and all SIDS. He will also be speaking at the forum on the commemoration and promotion of the banning of nuclear weapons.
Prime Minister Browne delivers the National Statement on September 25, during the virtual General Assembly on the theme “The future we want, the United Nations we need: reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism – confronting COVID-19 through effective multilateral action”.(ENDS)
MAURICE F. MERCHANT
Director-General of Communications | Government of Antigua and Barbuda