On Tuesday, January 12, 2021, Guyana participated in the XII Ministerial Forum for Development in Latin America and the Caribbean. The forum 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 is being held under the theme “COVID-19- Beyond Recovery. Towards a new social contact for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)”.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Honourable Hugh Todd, was represented by Director of the Department of International Cooperation, Ambassador Forbes July. Minister Todd was at the time accompanying His Excellency, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, during the Thirteenth Special Emergency Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
During a side event entitled “Towards a new classification for Caribbean economies”, Ambassador July expressed concern for lack of access to finance for many vulnerable countries in the region. He stated 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.”
Further, he 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.
“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,” Ambassador July noted. 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, compounded by health, economic and social effects of COVID-19. “Thus lending its voice to having a re-think of per capita income as a main criteria for graduating countries, from which many Caribbean countries suffer,” the Ambassador concluded.
The three-day forum, scheduled from January 12-14 2021, is expected to focus 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.