U.S. should boost financing to Caribbean nations: Antigua PM

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 (Reuters) – The United States should increase financing and aid to the Caribbean to help the region recover from the pandemic and cope with the growing impact of climate change, Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne said in an interview.

Countries in the region are facing unsustainable debt loads often equivalent to 100% of gross domestic product (GDP), Browne said, adding that many have been relying on loans from China due to favorable terms offered by Chinese banks.

“I feel that the U.S. ought to pay more attention to the Caribbean region in helping us to maintain our standard of living to avoid any mass movement of people,” he said in a telephone interview on Tuesday.

“If people are unable to live in (Caribbean) countries, then clearly they’ll end up on the shores of the United States as refugees.”

China has lent over $4 billion to Caribbean nations in the last 10 years, according to figures compiled by the Washington-based Inter-American Dialogue, much of which has gone to finance infrastructure development.

The conditions of those loans are more favorable than even those provided by multilateral agencies such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Browne said, adding that borrowing from Chinese banks should not be understood as a political statement.

The U.S. State Department did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

The Caribbean was disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the IMF, which last year said tourism-dependent countries in the region saw economies contract by 9.8% in 2020.

Many struggle to get aid because multilateral agencies tend to classify them as a middle- or high-income nations based on per-capita GDP measurements, which do not factor in the higher costs facing small island nations or their vulnerability to climate change.

Sustained U.S. support for changing those criteria would provide a significant boost for the Caribbean, Browne said.

“We expect the United States would use its influence in the multinational financial institutions to effect that change,” Browne said, adding he had not seen evidence that this was happening.

The vast majority of some $336 million in U.S. aid to members of the Caribbean Community, or Caricom, goes to Haiti, with only around $70 million being distributed among 13 other countries, he said. The population of those countries is around 7.5 million.

“It’s just miniscule,” Browne said.

Antigua and Barbuda, a nation of two main islands and several smaller ones in the northeastern Caribbean, has, like other countries in the region, faced growing expenses associated with extreme weather events.

Hurricane Irma in 2017 ravaged Barbuda, leaving all buildings uninhabitable and forcing the evacuation of all residents for nearly 18 months. Reconstruction costs were in excess of $200 million.

Antigua and Barbuda bore most of those costs, but got only $169,000 in aid from the United States in 2019, Browne said.

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14 COMMENTS

  1. Shut ya mouth… Wholly incapable of utilising funds other than lining every ministers pocket so go beg ah USA fu more

  2. Gaston Browne betrayed me and this is the reason I no longer back him.

    Now look at Gaston Browne begging nations for handouts. He will betray my country just like he betrayed me.

    I am now backing UPP and I take back all my stripper pole bus comments.

  3. Well what do we have here.
    You refuse many like me entry to my country of birth for months and now you’re asking for my very tax money to benefit who ?
    U.S. Ambassador questioned your close alliance with China and I quote “no one can tell you who your friends could be” as far as I’m concerned go kick rocks.
    Your self enrichment schemes and strategic placement of your wife as a Minister of Government is essentially conflict in overdose.
    The sweetheart house rental for many many times the going rate with the very same sweetheart investor deal is clearly a back channel payout which no one will investigate.
    You’re skilled at finding money for your family wealth so deal with it.

  4. More money for YOU steal to enrich yourself and family…Creatively.

    The more money given to ANTIGUA is the more money YOU GASTON STEAL …

    You think AMERICAN GOVERNMENT dnt know how corrupted your cabinet is …how you all mishandle donated funds and funnel it into FAKE CHARITIES ..OFSHORE BANKS…..ALL the CIP monies you all take from wanted fraudsters… YET ANTIGUA LOOKS LIKE A DIRTY MELTED ICECREAM . DO YOU THINK YOUR NOT WATCHED….

    GASTON ANTIGUANS AND AMERICA KNOWS BEHIND YOUR FAKE SMILES YOU ARE A DAMMMMMM THIEF.

  5. Gaston, do you know Americans pay income tax? You abolished personal income tax of about $60million a year and you want America to send you the taxes their citizens pay? You and your rich friends now have so much money in the bank that you begging them to invest the money. A lot of that should have been paid to the government in taxes. Poor people are suffering from the high cost of goods and services because of all the taxes. America nar give you cranana.

  6. Gas-Man Browne: WE the people,who work and pay our TAXES HERE IN THE USA. We would not be giving you any monies to fund your ABLP Political Campaign. Go back to the likes of YIDA AND OTHERS,LIKE THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE TO DO SO.They were financial contributors to your Party’s Campaign,in 2018.Not one damn cent from our tax paying dollars. A DRUNK,YOU DRUNK !!

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  8. Well well you have more heart than a pack of cards. I don’t understand what you’re trying. You took so much money out of the people of the country pocket and have the heart to beg now? The people need to cry out to get investigation on you and your family and the cabinet and just like Stanford went to jail someone need to go. Whoever hands is in the cookie jar sho be arrested. Why you don’t pay back the country for your son free schooling. Every business you and your cabinet has need to investigate and close down conflict of interest. Your wife position is a conflict of interest. People of the country is crying out while you reaping the full benefits you and you parasites. Shame on you

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