On 15 July 2021, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the United Kingdom co-hosted a virtual dialogue on the issue of access to finance. The event was opened by UK Minister of State responsible for the Caribbean, Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon and Assistant Secretary General of CARICOM, Joseph Cox.
Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda and Chairman of CARICOM, the Hon Gaston Brwone, as well as Ministers from Belize and St Vincent and the Grenadines also made presentations on the issue, alongside members of the donor community from the US, Canada, World Bank and the Caribbean Development Bank.
The event further amplified the challenges that Small Island Developing States (SIDS) face when it comes to Access to Finance. Some existing mechanisms to deliver concessional and developmental financing do not take into consideration the unique challenges and vulnerabilities that communities in the Caribbean face.
These challenges include the devastating impacts of extreme weather events and the effects of economic shocks such as the impact on tourism dependent economies of COVID19. CARICOM were clear that there is an urgent need to reform, including where eligibility does not take into account the unique vulnerabilities of Small Island Developing States. The event also amplified frustrations on the high level of bureaucracy caused by international organisations which can impact SIDS ability to access funding.
The UK is committed to supporting the Caribbean and all Small Island Developing States in finding tangible solutions to the problem.
Commenting on the event Lord Ahmad said, “We need to take a fresh look at finance for small states. Gross national income does not tell the whole story, especially when a natural disaster can wipe out a year’s GDP in a single day. It does not capture the remoteness, vulnerability, or tell us about the challenge of protecting biodiversity and responding to climate change they face. We must come together to see progress that better supports our friends in the Caribbean and their access to finance.”