Source: Loop Caribbean
Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, Monday reiterated her call for a restructuring of the international financial architecture, indicating that the call for financial reform is really not about governance.
“For us, it is about longer money, cheaper money and being able to use it for the purposes for which we need to reduce all of our inequalities and to achieve the elements of the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals),” Mottley told a panel discussion, examining the biggest challenges standing in the way of achieving the SDGs, and the interventions, partnerships, and strategies that are needed.
The President of the United Nations General Assembly, Ambassador Dennis Francis of Trinidad and Tobago, convened the two-day 2023 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, also known as the SDG Summit.
The SDG Summit serves as a pivotal milestone in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, marking the halfway point of its implementation. It presents a crucial opportunity to accelerate our collective efforts towards sustainable development.
As the centerpiece of the High-level Week of the General Assembly, the SDG Summit will address the complex challenges our world faces due to various interconnected crises. Its objective is to rekindle hope, optimism, and enthusiasm for the 2030 Agenda.
Mottley said she is hoping “that we can have a joint effort between the World Bank, the IMF in particular and the UN to be able to bring to the table the credit rating agencies…because regrettably we value short-term lending but do not understand that if countries are going to invest in education and health care they need 30 and 40-year money in order to be able to do so”.
Mottley, who has been championing the Bridgetown initiative that is aimed at reforming the way rich countries finance poor countries in a climate crisis, said: “Our situation has been compounded by the (COVID-19) pandemic and therefore that long-term money is critical”.
Mottley, who under the Bridgetown Initiative, has noted that rich countries are able to borrow at interest rates of between one and four per cent, while it’s around 14 per cent for poorer countries, said developing countries like Barbados need what she termed “missionary oriented lending”.
She noted that Professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value, UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, Mariana Mazzucato, has already made such a point.
“In Barbados, we have set six missions recognising that all of our policies including the terms and conditions for access to finance have to reinforce the missions”.
She told the panel that if there is a belief that the SDGs are worth attaining there is a need to put a framework in place that allows the multilateral development banks (MDB) to value the SDGs and to be able to increase the length of time to repay funds.
“Thirdly, we need to ensure that as we do all of that, that we get countries and individuals to see the SDGs as individual targets because it is not only about the money we access, it is also about the policies, it is about the change of behaviour, it is about the change of attitude.
“The reason why the Secretary-General can speak about there being an abundance of food and people starving is because we choose not to act differently and we choose not to share with one another.”
Mottley said she believes those three points are critical reiterating “ let us get a meeting with the credit rating agencies in the market …because you cannot continue to value short-term lending.”
‘You cannot continue to have a matrix that doesn’t support a move away from per capita GDP (gross domestic product) that is historic and tells us nothing about the country, while the vulnerability of the country increases exponentially”.
Asked whether she was encouraged now about a reform of the financial systems than three months ago, Mottley replied: “I believed that this man (World Bank President Ajay Banga) has scored a century in his first 100 days and I say so as one who has been a major critic of the World Bank.
“I think the course correction that he has brought has been critical, but I say to him, if we are running fast and the dog behind us is running faster than us we will still get bitten.
“So I hope he recognises now that pace and scope are still the order of the day and in fairness it is not him, it is us, the countries. He is simply the agent that will be carrying out our wishes, but at the end of the day, I want to make the point that we cannot have SDGs for the benefit of global public goods and not have a mechanism for financing global public goods.”
“And I still believe that the World Bank is the best place to locate the financing of global public goods, but I accept that there may not be enough public money and to that extent how do we mobilise money that now goes into non-state actors most of whose balance sheets…that dwarf and militarize the majority of countries in this room,” Mottley said.
“So we have to find a way of them contributing to the financing of global public goods and we also have to try and find a way of philanthropic capital financing global public goods. They want to do good but it cannot only be what they want, there has to be what the world needs,” Mottley said.