WHEN CARIBBEAN Community (CARICOM) leaders hold their virtual summit tomorrow, an important outcome would be to add regional heft to Gaston Browne’s call on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to make it easier for regional countries to access their financial resources.
But the heads of government must go further. They should insist on a longer-term multibillion-dollar strategy to fund the region’s development – a sort of Marshall Plan for the Caribbean. Developed countries should be asked to make up for the unfulfilled promises of the past while recognising the painful efforts of CARICOM governments, including Jamaica’s, over the past decade, to put their economic houses in order.
Tomorrow’s meeting is an opportunity, as its convenor, the Barbadian prime minister and CARICOM chairman, Mia Mottley, said that the community has a “virtual reality” beyond the physical boundaries of its sovereign states. If that were not true, CARICOM’s functional cooperation efforts, and, more important, its plans to create a genuine single market and economy, would be entirely unfeasible.
In that respect, Ms Mottley’s suggestion for a common public-health protocol and common border policy seems eminently sensible. It, among other things, opens an opportunity for sourcing and allocating scarce medical supplies for the fight against COVID-19, and, if required, the deployment of healthcare workers on a regional basis. In a sense, this would be merely expanding on the approaches to regional problems already being taken by institutions such as the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).
With respect to a common border policy, this does not require reinventing the wheel, but, rather, a refinement of a system that was in place for the Cricket World Cup of 2007, which, unfortunately, was caused to lapse. A common border policy for non-CARICOM nationals would, hopefully, also serve to highlight and reinforce the right of CARICOM citizens to hassle-free travel within the community.
MORE THAN A COLD
But as important as these issues are, even after the health threat from COVID-19 passes, most CARICOM states will still face a serious, if not existential, economic crisis. CARICOM’s economies rest primarily on tourism; the export of commodities, such as bauxite/alumina, oil, and natural gas; and remittances. More than 70 per cent of the Caribbean’s tourists come from the US; America is the region’s main trading partner; and Caribbean citizens in the United States send back billions of dollars in remittances, which, in Jamaica’s case, accounts for nearly two-thirds of more than US$2.3 billion. In this regard, the saying that “if America catches a cold, the Caribbean gets pneumonia” is more than a cliché.
In the current circumstance, the United States, as is the rest of the global economy, is facing more than a cold. As countries shut down to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the IMF’s managing director, Kristalina Georgieva, projects that rather than more than 160 countries having expanded gross domestic products (GDPs) this year, over 170 will record negative growth. She calls the situation “the worst economic fallout since the Great Depression”.
The world economy, by some estimates, could contract by as much as two per cent, or even more. Critically for this region, in a matter of weeks, as part of the COVID-19 shutdown, the US economy shed nearly 17 million jobs. A week ago, the rating agency Fitch estimated that the US economy would decline by 3.3 per cent in 2020. Ms Georgieva expects that there will be “a partial recovery” in the international economy next year.
There is no broadly coordinated global response to the crisis, but developed countries have the capacity to cushion the effect of the fall and to buoy themselves towards a post-COVID-19 recovery. For instance, the United States has a US$2.2-trillion recovery programme; Germany has announced spending nearly a fifth of its GDP; and the European Union/eurozone countries have announced a half-trillion euro fund to support the zone’s recovery. These are apart from the quantitative easing and other initiatives launched by developed-world central banks.
Despite the confidence of a few governments that they can withstand the buffeting, CARICOM states lack the resources to mount a rescue effort of anything near this magnitude.
As Gaston Browne, the Antigua and Barbuda prime minister, told Ms Geogreiva and her World Bank counterpart, David Malpass, even as the region faces COVID-19, around the corner lurks a potentially dangerous hurricane season. And while countries like his wait for tourism’s recovery in perhaps a year’s time, their economies might go into free fall. This is a scenario to which many Jamaicans might relate. Some tourism industry officials say the country could lose over two-thirds of its tourism earnings in 2020, which, potentially, could lead to a decline in the economy deeper than the four per cent now projected.
Most Caribbean countries, because of the ‘middle income’ status, can’t get concessional funding from the multilaterals. Mr Browne has called for that to be changed. He also wants Paris Club write-offs for countries with bilateral loans and for budgetary support via loans and grants. These are not unreasonable proposals. They are the same ones that were on the table for the highly indebted Caribbean at the time of the Great Recession, on which the international community reneged. Now, nearly a decade of hard reforms is in danger of erosion.
That is why CARICOM must support Mr Browne’s proposal as well as ask its Council of Finance and Planning and Committee of Central Banks to develop a broader support plan to be taken to the G7.
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Every time I hear this idiot call the IMF name I start to laugh out loud. This can’t be the same Top Dawg that said under no uncertainty his government will be going into any IMF program. Guess the dawg eating his own vomit.
After reading your posting, I can see you ain’t NO “Knight in Shining Armour”. Chuptz.
@Happy in rusty armour ….. Dr Errol Cort really knew what he was speaking about when he called you an idiot.. Upp should drop you as thee PRO … U are causing them to loose seats…
PM calls for the resignation of IMF employee
IMF Response: Arnold Mcintyre no longer country officer for A&B
Brethren trust that when they (ABLP haters) are finished using you, there will be no place left for you to land. Slow suicide is your lot. Ask those who luckily had the option of defecting, if you don’t believe me
Well it would appear that he is not really eating his vomit (as he would perhaps believe) since he is going to the IMF under the umbrella of CARICOM. In either scenario Prime Minister Browne should be acutely embarrassed having anything to do with the IMF after his tongue lashing of the Institution at Sandals in Antigua.
You guys seem to have a problem when someone stands up for Antigua and tell them like it is. The PM was more than correct to tell the IMF to take a hike that he will not take the country into an IMF program. And that was nothing personal. But you guys would have brought us into another IMF program. Cause you guys don’t know how to run the country. And since then we have done quite well without the IMF. Year after year we have grown the economy. Now that the entire world is facing the most serious economic destruction all you guys can do is gloat to see if the PM will finally get into the arms of the IMF and let the country be run by them. But that is not the issue at this time. This is not an Antigua crisis. Its a world crisis and being part of the body we are just as entitle as others to receive funding with no strings attached. We have not kicked out the IMF they have their office here and do their research and work daily with the technicians in the ministry of finance. That is our obligation. Papa Bird has also refused their program on numerous occasions. But the UPP had no vision and no choice. So they took the bait. And for that you guys get thrown out of office. And that still hurt you guys. IMF economists or no better than ours. Yes numbers do not lie and perhaps one day the government will have no choice but to lay off many public servants, just like Barbados did. But what is the flip side of this. You dealing with people’s lives and this is what the pandemic has shown. No regards for people’s lives. No one has the crystal ball to see how long and what will the economic effect turn out to be. How many will go hungry. The USA print money like water now. They will find any amount of money they need, even though it is not supported by any economic activity. They just want the people to have money to go and spend. Free money they have not worked for. We need some of that free money too. But we cannot just go a print money. Or our money will become as monopoly money. Meaning you can use it as toilet paper. Remember when we had a housing crisis in the USA the entire world economy suffered. How the hell was that possible. Now this time it will be worst. Tie yuh belly, Hard times ah come. I hope I’m wrong, but one has to get prepared for the worse case scenario.
A little embarrassed, yeah, but only because he is human. I promise you that he is not the first leader to lash out at the IMF and he won’t be the last.
Besides, other regions with developing countries will be calling for similar programs. Even the World Bank Group and IMF recently took the initiative to call for Debt Relief for IDA countries.
Whenever the global economy is in shambles, it’s usually in the rich world’s self-interest to get trade and especially credit flowing into the not so fortunate countries.
Trump said he intends to “focus the G7 meeting on economic recovery” so the timing maybe right for CARICOM to call on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group to make it easier for regional countries to access their financial resources.
These financial institutions were created to manage and shape the global economy. They are key actors who have the power to determine access to the global economic resources.
Im happy Gaston B will be the one who will be asking on behalf of CARICOM, for a program of financial and other economic aid. This would be essential to the economic rebuilding of CARICOM’s countries, and consequently the global economy.
God’s willing, the developed countries will “recognize CARICOM’s functional cooperation efforts, CARICOM’s efforts to put its individual economic houses in order, while at the same time, its efforts to create a genuine single market and economy, and most importantly make up for the unfulfilled promises of the past.” Amen
@ KNIGHT AND TABOR
What the hell is wrong with you Guys !!!!! We are in a COVID 19 crisis and both you Guys are using these harsh words about our Hon.Prime Minister ????? I wish there was a Law that charges could be brought against Knight and Tabor for Their RUDE utterances. Tabor ….You should know better. I am not expecting any better from Knight because He is just a LOUD MOUTH. This is a CRISIS Guys please take the Stupid politics out of this. We have 3 years to go before an election. When that time comes then you Guys can go back to being yourself. What is the UPP plan in all this. UPP should be distributing Food hampers instead of criticizing. Antiguans will remember TABOR , KNIGHT and the UPP treatment when the time comes around. SHAME , SHAME.
Dr Mr Knight and Tabor. Is your hate for the PM and the ALP so deep rooted that it totally blinds you to the larger plight of our country of Barbuda and its suffering citizens?
Do you take pleasure at taking shots at the PM while not focusing your energies on assisting our country and its citizens in fighting this catastrophic pandemic?
Are you patriots first and foremost of our beloved country or does your hate and thirst for vengeance put love of country and patriotism in the back seat?
Please gentleman, there will be ample time to quench your political thirst. Worry not. But now is not and CANNOT be that time. Please put patriotism and love for Antigua and Barbuda first!! Your country needs it.
The “deadly” silence from PM Browne with regard to China’s roll in this pandemic is absolutely amazing and in my opinion portrays a submissive wimp. China is categorically (whether intentional biological warfare or not remains to be seen) responsible for six digits of horrible and unnecessary deaths. China knew that their Wuhan corona virus was very contagious and a killer and they said nothing and sent five million to leave their infected areas and go to the countries around the world and spread this killer of loved ones which has had such a devastating effect on the economies around the world. The countries around the world who have filed class action lawsuits against China are absolutely correct to do so. They are also correct to be withdrawing their manufacturing companies out of China. Any country who has not learned by this time that the communist government of China cannot be trusted as was shown over their silence and not supplying medical supplies and even sending defective equipment to countries in Europe.
China needs to pay back the outside world big time, and they should start by cancelling their “debt-trap” overpriced loans that they use to infiltrate countries and take over their/our ports and resources for themselves.
IMO all Chinese loans in the Caribbean (in the world) should be cancelled in lieu of the multi millions and death count China has cost us. The PM should show real leadership by also filing a lawsuit if the Chinese refuse to co-operate…Their building standards are so sub-standard that it would be absolutely no loss to we, the people if they all pack up and go back to their home country!
Antigua people (Barbudans fight for their island) need to start THINKING when they are in long lines, forced to stay home, getting arrested, cannot go to the beach or church at Easter, money running out, having to bear the pain of losing a loved one and having to live with the insecurity of not knowing when some sort of normalcy will return…THINK HARD about WHO caused all this; a country who is known to be the most racist and one of dirtiest inhumane countries in the world! They need to go!
When will we realise that:
1. Taking out more loans from the IMF and World Bank means owing (even more) massive foreign debt which
2. Puts us in a position where we HAVE to earn foreign currency to pay it off which
3. Makes it impossible for us to develop a more resilient, self-reliant, and local place-based economy which serves our people and not the foreign investors who naturally take advantage of a small island nation who need the foreign currency they provide.
Whichever way we look at it, more foreign debt means more dependence on the global economy just to meet our needs at home. Though of course I understand the immediate pressure to find cash-flow for the government, this pressure is only due to the fact that our development ever since the rise of tourism has been almost exclusively based on going into debt with foreign entities, corporations and governments. At this point now our food system would collapse without our ability to import foreign goods with foreign money.
We should not need foreign capital simply to feed and house and clothe our people. We know how to do that right here nationally and regionally. We have so much value to exchange between ourselves as Antiguans, as fellow citizens, as human beings, and we should be focussing on ways to facilitate that exchange.
In the midst of this crisis I already see it happening on the ground, in the villages, on the streets. More and more people are growing food, landlords are accommodating tenants who can’t pay right now, musicians are live streaming events online for free. We are realising that value is not created by capital, but by people and our island.
So if we must take another international loan, let it be acknowledged as a short-term solution. Let us remember that with every dollar we borrow, our grandchildren must pay off 2. Let us draw on our amazing talent and resources and finally begin to build a truly sustainable and resilient economy, based on people not capital. Let us work together to sustain ourselves, create value, and look after each other. This is the economic lesson of COVID-19. I pray we learn it.
I am not a very smart/bright person.I have a few pennies that I own.I attended Greenbay Primary School at 5 and left at 6.I had some of the best and brightest teachers during that year.They taught me that I should let my words be soft and sweet.Just in case I have to eat them.Do not burn your Bridges.Because you would never know when you would need to cross over that bridge again.Based on my limited teachings.It would appear that Gaston Browne did not attend Greenbay Primary School.Could the schools we have attended made us what we have become.Good,Bad or Ugly.
@ blackman I absolutely agree with you!
I attended PMS like Gaston Browne. One thing they taught us was pride. Recognize that God has a role for us and that our nation needs us to fulfill that role. Its probably via PMS hat the PM learned he need not cower to anyone and in life people more value someone who let you know where they stand than backstabbers. One thing about Browne, he does not hold onto malice, No court as has happened with former PM BS has ruled that Gaston was motivated by Malice in actions he took. Recall similar happened in the Watt case. There s no indictment which states that Gaston put dirty money in his bank account. Telling people like Tabor don’t like Browne but prefer BS because he shares their bitterness against Labor.
Please these guys were never Patriots. People that are filled with hatred and envy cannot change. They’re stoop into blind political diatribes and ignorance. Please pray for them cause they don’t know anything better. Just ignore the ignoramous….
BLACK-MAN I cannot believe that you have made a comment that I would agree with. However, I must say that I completely agree with your comment. Your teachers from Greenbay School must be very proud of you to see that you learnt the lessons you were taught very well and in particular that you should not burn your bridges because who do not know when you may need to cross them. Apparently Prime Minister Gaston Browne did not learn that lesson at Princess Margaret School.
No he didn’t go to Green Bay School and neither did Papa Bird. These are men that learn to standup for your country and talk straight without fear. As long as you speak the truth.
@ CHARLESWORTH TABOR
Our Prime Minister Hon. Gaston Browne is a well learned Man. Hon. Gaston Browne is the best Prime Minister in the Caribbean. Also Hon. Gaston Browne will run rings around you at any time and any place. Tabor why do you show such DISLIKE for Hon Gaston Browne ????? Hope you address this issue. I do not expect a reply !!!!!
Maybe the two guys could benefit from some indepth therapy. Long Live the Great Prime Minister of this emerging nation, and the People whom he serves with honour.
I wonder if he knows,realizes or understands the US Economy, The US dont “have” 2.2 trillion,,they gotta print it out of DEBT,,which can have a devastating effect on the economy..HYPERINFLATION up the ass,,,man might have to do like germany did and walk with couple hundred thousand dollars jus to go and buy bread…our PM is a very smart fool…but at the end of day he need the money from IMF to pay ppl n whatnot,,I jus hope he gotta solid plan and not leaning on tourism to pay that shit back,,,TOURISM dead nf right now
I told the PM when this thing began that this is the only time that I do not envy him at all. Cause the only thing that can lead us out of this is Godly wisdom. Reminds me of the story of Joseph who was able to tell pharaoh what his dream was all about. And was able to safe Egypt from the disaster that came over the world at that time. Seven years of drought. We can only pray that God gives our PM Godly wisdom to steer this country in the right direction through this terrible period. And when we have come out of it we will talk
And yes the USA can print all trillions of dollars they want. Cause if they fall the entire world falls. Their National Debt will just grow larger and larger.
ON THE MOVE you are absolutely wrong in your opinion that I dislike Prime Minister Gaston Browne. The Prime Minister himself would tell you that is not the case. I deal issues and not personality. If the Prime Minister does something that I believe is correct I will support him and vice versa. When the Prime Minister and I meet we have a conversation. He is not my enemy. For the supporters of the Prime Minister every criticism of the government is seen as an attack on the Prime Minister. For example, I have recently criticized the government for the holding of the Virtual Parliament on 30 March, 2020. I said it was unlawful because there is no law which authorized such a sitting of Parliament. Parliament would first have to pass such a law or introduce Standing Orders to give it the authority to meet virtually. For that I was criticized and accused of not liking the government and Prime Minister. Similarly, the passing of the Regulations to regulate our conduct during the curfew period was not properly enacted and therefore unlawful. For that again, I was accused of hating the government. Like you and I, the government must also act in accordance with the law. That is simply what I was pointing out and it was done not out of dislike for the Prime Minister or his government. I believe I have a duty as a citizen of this country to highlight wrong when I see it, particularly in the area of the law since I am a lawyer by profession.
Charlesworth Tabor do us all a favour and STFU!!!!! Gosh man it is a world health crisis and you just blah blah blah bout consittution. U think this coronashit is a normal circumstance. F**” man for a lawyer you always up and down on this blog acting like a f****** jackass!
Brethren take my word for it, what you did only makes him feel important. He enjoys the attention since it gives him the impression of importance. Not one word from him when the UPP administration was stepping in it and acting unconstitutionally. Even heard it suggested that he was one of their advisors during the on purpose constitutional breach. Recall one of their own Juno, making it clear that parliament was bigger than the court, hence the suggestion that they could ignore court rulings. Not one word back then from the man who reminds us he is a lawyer. Can only conclude he gained the law degree after the 2014 election and before then he was just pretending (no longer enjoying tax payers money without providing value)
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