Dr Carla Barnett, senator and Minister of Labor, was present at the United Nation’s Meeting of the Ministers of Finance as they discussed the topic, “Financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the Era of covid-19 and Beyond.” In Dr Barnett’s statement, she noted that Belize, which is tourism and export dependent, suffered an abrupt economic shock and at least twenty thousand workers in the tourism sector lost their jobs. This caused unemployment to double from 10% to at least 20%. Additionally, the height of the pandemic in the country coincided with the start of a volatile Atlantic hurricane season. Barnett mentioned that Hurricane Nana severely damaged our export and domestic food crops, which will affect IMF and the World Bank’s prediction of a 20 to 25% GDP contraction. As such, Dr Barnett asked everyone to step into Belize’s shoes, and the shoes of all other Small Island Developing States (SIDS), and examine how the policies put forth will expand their access to finance and help them to avoid being strangled by already high debt. She then stated that according to their assessment, the policy options mentioned give little hope at this stage, since only six months into the covid-19 pandemic, Belize’s budgets have literally collapsed and there is no predictable timeline for an economic rebound. She noted that the proposed policy options would, in the short term, have Belize carry an additional burden of even greater debt or worse, enter into structural adjustment programs. In the medium term, there are a variety of purported financial solutions, but these rely on goodwill and the financial backing of other who may well be too pressed themselves. Dr Barnett stated that the options set forth will now be definitive of the future of Belizeans. She highlighted that the options that will enable Belize and other SIDS to recover and do better, must include: access to liquidity for all SIDS on grant and concessional terms; debt workouts inclusive of private creditors; debt for development and debt for climate swaps; and recovery aligned with the Paris Agreement.
Dr Carla Barnett, senator and Minister of Labor, was present at the United Nation’s Meeting of the Ministers of Finance as they discussed the topic, “Financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the Era of covid-19 and Beyond.