(Guyana Chronicle) In an earnest letter on behalf of the Caribbean Region, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, has written to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (MF) requesting specific financial attention, as the Region grapples with significant economic loss linked to tourism and braces for the catastrophic effects of the hurricane season.
In the letter sent to IMF Managing Director, Kristalina Georgieva, and World Bank Group President, David Malpass, Browne requested a suspension of per capita income as a criterion for concessional financing; debt relief, including suspension of debt payments, write-offs of aged debt, particularly by the Paris Club, and budgetary support through a mix of grants and low-cost loans on a country by country basis. He explained that since the rise of the coronavirus (COVID-19) to a pandemic, the Caribbean Region has been hit with an unexpected economic decline that has already stripped it of over 20 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in some cases, with possibilities of prolonged deterioration.
With lower revenues, Caribbean governments are still working assiduously to address their cases of the virus and provide relief to their citizens, many of whom are now without jobs and have been placed on the breadline. “Several of our countries are highly tourism-dependent. The stoppage of airlines and cruise ships has devastated our tourism industry. Hotels and other tourism facilities have been forced to close because of a loss of business as well as domestic measures to try to contain COVID-19 and to arrest its spread. The effect of this is a significant and unsustainable drop in government revenues, including foreign exchange, occurring simultaneously with demands for increased government spending to institute new health facilities and to provide such assistance as possible to families whose only money earner has been laid-off,” Browne stated in his letter.
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