Antigua and Barbuda among Caribbean countries in debt stranglehold

Officer in charge of the Caribbean Policy Development Centre, Richard Jones (Photo contributed)

Antigua and Barbuda is among the top 10 small island developing states (SIDS) in the world with public debt greater than their gross domestic product (GDP).

Caribbean countries in fact make up six of the top 10.

Based on 2020 data, Barbados is the highest ranked at 157 percent, followed by Suriname, Belize, Dominica, Jamaica, and Antigua and Barbuda.

Policy Advisor to the Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC), Jwala Rambarran, told the Caribbean Debt and Climate Consultations in Barbados that most of this debt is owned by private creditors – with China being the largest creditor.

Rambarran said many Caribbean SIDS do not qualify for low cost concessional financing from international lenders because of their middle income status.

He stressed that creditors do not take the effects of external shocks into consideration, some going as far back as 1996 with the phasing out of preferential trade agreements for sugar and bananas, the global financial crisis and the fuel hike in 2008, more recently the Covid-19 pandemic followed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

Caribbean SIDS also face the constant threat of frequent and ferocious natural disasters, exacerbated by climate change.

He noted that between 1950 and 2021, the region faced 423 named storms, 216 hurricanes and 100 major hurricanes.

It has been estimated that the region has suffered about US$30 billion in damages over the last 70 years.

Rambarran estimated that the total Caribbean debt amounts to almost US$65 billion, of which more than half is domestic debt.

This is debt held by local banks, insurance companies and monies used for education, health and local social programmes which may not be sustainable.

The CPDC’s answer to the challenge facing indebted countries is Caribbean Emancipation 2030, which has several global initiatives as its foundation.

The policy advisor noted, “It looked at what were the types of debt restructuring and debt cancellation agreements that the international communities had proposed, had used and some of which are still in use.”

The aim is to come up with a debt solution that is tailored to the Caribbean.

The three main objectives are, firstly, to allow the region to negotiate substantial reductions in their overall debt.

Secondly, to institute new green resilience bonds which it is hoped would usher in a new wave of capital flows to Caribbean SIDS.

And, thirdly, encourage many Caribbean countries to adopt and pursue ambitious, economic reform programmes linking debt relief to climate resilience.

Officer in charge of the CPDC, Richard Jones, said it is critical that the voices of those most impacted by sovereign debt are heard.

He stressed that some of the most affected groups go unnoticed and noted that, as interlocutors between policymakers and the most vulnerable, civil society is uniquely placed to articulate grassroots needs.

“Civil society brings the human touch to policymaking where others have faltered.

Given the external shocks rocking Caribbean SIDS, solutions are desperately needed to improve the quality of life and livelihoods of those most affected.

“When we talk about sustainable development, priority must be given to marginalised social sectors.

The erasure of poverty is paramount.

That is the root of sustainability,” Jones said.

Rambarran concluded, “We wanted a message that carried the word emancipation.

We wanted a message that would sit deeply with policymakers and the wider society.


It also carried this powerful symbolism – you break the chains of slavery and break the bondage of debt,” he said.

The CPDC is a regional umbrella body of non-governmental organisations headquartered in Barbados.

It advocates on a number of social and economic development issues impacting the region, and provides technical assistance and small grant support to civil society organisations across the Caribbean.

SOURCE: Observer

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  1. @ Gaston

    This is what Gaston has brought Antigua to.

    He did promise that he would borrow us out of Debt.

    We need to GET THE RID OF DEM to prevent the financial destruction of our country.

    • Athley Rodney on 08/08/2021 to Gaston and Cutie ‘should I proceed with the plan to tear gas the poor black hungry Antiguans and Barbudans?’

      Gaston and Cutie’s response to Rodney ‘Yes, teargas DEM R_ SS, make certain that you hurt them real badly, let them know that a we run things ya’

      Dem wicked evil and HEARTLESS Vagabonds.

  2. How the hell can any right thinking Antiguan be surprised after 50 combined terrible years of Birdism and Browneism?

    Well highlighted Mr Richard Jones of the CPDC … AND BACKED UP BY FACTS, FIGURES AND DATA 👍

    Putting the ABLP acolytes in their place time and time again. Easy really!

    🎶 The Party Done … Party Party Party Party Done …🎵

    Come UPP, adopt this Machell Montano Soca riddim for your election campaign – it’ll be the icing on your CELEBRATION CAKE 🎂

    • I’m so excited for the citizens of the country, we are on the precipice of GREATER things for Antigua & Barbuda.

      I can see our manufacturing being improved.

      More investment in our ‘Blue’ economy.

      Our water supply system being completed – at last!

      And also looking forward to knowing where every penny cent of our government taxes are going.



      • 🎶RIDE DE MOTER BIKE 🛵 … Ah Dek Ki Dek 🎵

        UPP driving rolling towards the winning line 🚚🚛🚚🚛🚚🚛🚚 come election. YEE HAW!

  3. Was it not the top dawg who believe he is the brightest bulb in the room, that made the ludicrous statement about “borrowing Antigua out of debt”? Not even Einstein or Newton could have figured out that dumb statement.

    Then he claimed he going to make Antigua an economic power house, but except those supping at the trauf with 5 paycheck and his family members, citizens have not seen this pipe dream.
    Now that election is neigh, he spouting nonsense about next level, when the country has not moved past the stage it was prior to 2014.

    Only he his family, cronie and minister’s will be moving to the next level by enriching them even more, should Antiguans re-elect he and his cabal to office.

    Think hard about this: Our students are leaving the PUBLIC SCHOOLS after 15 years of instructional education without knowledge and skill to start a business and earn a living. This results in significant loss to the economy and serious damage to our social development.
    There MUST BE “education revolution” in our education system.
    Everything in life is related to STEM and business. Everything!!!
    STEM is the acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics.

    Our curriculum MUST PRIORITIZE STEM and business principles, Pre-K to Tertiary (ages 2-17 years) in EVERY PUBLIC SCHOOL and INSTITUTION powered by our OECS and CARICOM creative Arts (arts, crafts/design, fashion, sewing/ year-round, in-school, extra-curricular programs – after school activities – summer.

    Our economic growth and social development REQUIRE that transformation to REFORM and RESTRUCTURE our education system so that we can create, innovate, produce, distribute the goods and services we need for ourselves and others.
    In our economies, look at the deficits in net trading accounts for goods and services!
    Our colonizers pursued successfully for their purposes, the colonial education for elite managers and unskilled labor in order to produce economic wealth and cultural benefits for themselves.
    It’s time to change that education model linked inextricably to that economic model!

    Save our Humanity, Save our Youths, Save our Environment, Save our Soil!!!


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