Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony has drawn attention to difficulties encountered by small island states in sourcing financial help from international organisations, and has called for a differentiated approach from the organisations approving request for assistance.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 2014 Global Biennial Conference on Small States at the Bay Gardens Hotel on Wednesday, Dr. Anthony said small states have a long way to go in convincing these international bodies, to not only consider issuing aid solely based on benchmarks determined by a country’s individual unit economic output, or gross domestic product (GDP).
He said small states should play an instrumental role in getting the global organisations to change their outlook on how they provide financial assistance.
“How much longer will small states have to lobby and persuade international institutions to accept a differentiated approach to aid for small states?” he asked.
He believes the donor organizations should not only approve aid – whether it is a soft loan or grant – on the basis of GDP per capita. “[This] has been a longstanding debate. We still have a long way to go to convince the international community,” he lamented.
He noted the importance of developing a resilience framework among Commonwealth small states, as he said it is an “an important guide and tool of measurement.”
“It presents an opportunity to characterise empirically the peculiarities of small states and why we require special treatment in both trade and aid,” he added.
Notwithstanding that, he applauded what he said was a seemingly more responsive approach by world organisations to aiding countries with disaster relief.
“We are observing some very welcomed steps by international finance institutions, for example the World Bank, to be more reactive to natural disasters. Perhaps this is a sign that there is growing acceptance at external shocks are like blows to the head which leave our development gender in paralysis coma and our people in even more dire pain,” he said.
Dr. Anthony, however, lamented what he said are lengthy periods which these international organisations take to deliver this aid following natural disasters.
“What is even more disheartening is the length of time it takes for the response to arrive. Losses mount up in real time and the cost to small states and their people often can be felt for decades to come,” he stated.