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PM: Time to find solution to debt sustainability challenges

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart (centre) addressing the press briefing, alongside Minister of Environment Dr. Denis Lowe and UN Under-Secretary General for DESA, Wu Hongbo.

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart (centre) addressing the press briefing, alongside Minister of Environment Dr. Denis Lowe and UN Under-Secretary General for DESA, Wu Hongbo.

Barbados this morning asked the United Nations to convene a major conference that could assist this country in preparing recommendations for its debt sustainability challenges.

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart also urged that the world body include Small Island Developing States in this, so they, too, could benefit.

Delivering the feature address at the opening of a three-day Inter-Regional Preparatory Meeting of Small Island Developing States at Hilton Barbados Resort, Prime Minister Stuart told the gathering that debt sustainabiity was a critical issue to this country, as well as for many of the SIDS.

“We must therefore use the opportunity provided by the Third International Conference on SIDS to both find and share solutions to this challenge, as it is a major constraint to SIDS achieving sustainable development,” he informed the meeting which is preparing a common outcome document for next year’s full SIDS conference in Samoa. “In this context, it is imperative that before we meet in Samoa, an opportunity be provided to fully ventilate this matter,” he added.

“In this regard,” continued the Head of Government, “the relevant entity in the UN responsible for coordinating SIDS issues, may want to consider convening a meeting of the Finance and Economic Ministers of SIDS to discuss this issue and to put forward specific recommendations to be considered as part of the outcome of the Third International meeting on SIDS.”

In addition to supporting the call for this proposed forum, he said the Government of Barbados pledged to remain fully engaged on this matter at all levels, “as we journey on the road to Samoa.”

With regards to science and technology, the prime minister noted the need for sustained scaling up and reform in international cooperation and financing, to facilitate technology transfer to developing countries.

“This is especially important in areas that will address some of the persistent problems being encountered in relation to climate change, energy independence and food security,” stated the political leader of the ruling Democratic Labour Party.

Stuart suggested that action was required at the international level with respect to developing a mechanism for technology sharing, transfer and development in SIDS. “Among the actions required would be adjustments to intellectual property and multilateral trade policies. At the local level, an adequate enabling environment will have to be developed to encourage home grown efforts to produce and adapt environmentally sustainable technologies,” the Prime Minister suggested.

He stated that the cross-cutting issue of access to technology impinged not only on the environment, but also on trade and finance.

“Its importance,” Stuart argued, “should therefore not be underestimated. Furthermore, we believe that embracing science and technology among the young people living in small island developing states, can provide the basis for decent jobs for our youth.” Stuart asked the incoming Bureau of the meeting to give “deserved” prominence to the role of technology in helping SIDS to address the issue of youth unemployment as delegates prepare the outcome document.

Prime Minister Stuart revealed too that much work had been done by the UNDP to prepare a feasibility study on a technical assistance programme for SIDS in order to promote inter and intraregional cooperation.

“Fundamental to the operationalisation of SIDS/TAPS will be the need for a supporting funding mechanism. Though we share the view that SIDS themselves will be required to make a contribution, innovative partnership-based financing mechanisms, will have to be put in place, especially in light of the loss of concessional resources,” the Cabinet Chairman concluded.(EJ)

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