Prime Minister, Honourable Roosevelt Skerrit addressed the International Monetary Fund Western Hemisphere Department Managing Director’s Virtual Meeting with the Caribbean authorities.
Prime Minister Skerrit says the largest part of Dominica’s debt is associated with having to respond to natural disasters.
“In response to our vulnerability and exposure to these extreme events we in Dominica and the wider Caribbean have collectively resolved to become a climate resilient region. In pursuit of that goal, our countries are preparing development strategies and plans that outline the path we want to follow. Built into this framework is financial resilience. We have seen the devastating impact of covid-19, external shocks and natural disasters on our tourism sector. Diversification of economies is critical but our small size makes it more difficult. We are retooling and reorienting our people to take advantage of the digital economy, to develop economic opportunities from the Blue and Green Economies, diversify our agriculture and increase or exports,” Prime Minister Skerrit stated.
Prime Minister Skerrit says there is much more to be done to build the pathway to resilient diversification. He says additional assistance is needed to achieve the goal to becoming the first climate resilient nation in the world.
“There is much more to be done to build this pathways to resilient diversification. Hence the need for additional complimentary scaffolding in the form of technical assistance, skills development, the transfer of technology and know-how and financial support if we are to maximize the opportunities in those areas. The reality is to achieve the level of resilience that is needed to climate proof our countries, we require significant resources that we simply do not have. The economic contraction that the IMF has predicted for the Caribbean as a result of the sudden stop of travel and tourism will worsen our fiscal position, and yet most of us do not have access to the grant or concessional financing that we need,” the Prime minister explained.
In his address, the Prime Minister said the key to building resilience is to create sustainable economies.
“There is no mission that will protect the environment that does not speak to protecting our economy. And that challenge has become even clearer, given the fact of what has happened this year around the world. While this is a unique period of challenge, this is also a unique period of opportunity, which gives added weight to the value of multi-laterism. This moment in history should force all of us, including organizations like the IMF, to review our understanding of how policies and approaches affect real people. Indeed balancing lives is as crucial as balancing our books,” he noted.
Prime Minister Skerrit called on the IMF to give its support behind the efforts of the small island developing states on its mission to building resilience.
“We need the international community to throw their collective weight and resources behind our efforts by adopting the vulnerability index as a measure for determining grant and concessional financing; and this index I must add should be designed with the involvement of our best expertise and should not be a unilateral imposition as previous formulae. Providing additional grant financing to support covid-19 management, vaccines, social programme, and supporting micro, small and medium sized firms,” Prime Minister Skerrit added.
Prime Minster Skerrit thanked the Managing Director and her team for their continued partnership and extensive support to the region over the years particularly with the technical assistance.