Sun | Dec 17, 2017

St Lucian PM calls for financial concessions to Caribbean countries hit by hurricanes

Published:Wednesday | November 29, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Prime Minister of St Lucia Allan Chastanet has called for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to reclassify funds, borrowed by Caribbean countries that were devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, given the high levels of debt that the region faces.

He said that these countries need concessions to rebuild their economies; and, declared that there is also need for a dedicated fund from which the Caribbean could draw down; and it should be free from the typical bureaucratic processes that normally drive these mechanisms.

Chastanet was speaking during the Roundtable discussion on "Multi-Destination Tourism - Caribbean - Current Trends and Future Prospects," during the first day of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), Government of Jamaica, World Bank Group and Inter-American Development Bank Global Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth: Partnerships for Sustainable Development, at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James.

"No one is calculating the millions of dollars that are being lost on a daily basis; and no one is giving consideration to the fact that there is no expenditure taking place in Puerto Rico; and the close down of the Cruise Shipping Industry in some islands, because ports have been destroyed and they can't get in. St Maarten is literally closed," Chastanet said.

The St Lucian Prime Minister, who is also chairman of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), said that there is need for the financing of a regional tourism marketing campaign that speaks to the resilience of the Caribbean.

"We have no choice but to spend the money, because resilience is the insurance that investors need following the devastation to the region, caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria," Chastanet said

He told delegates that there is need for the reclassification of middle-income status of small island states so they can access concessional funds.

He also acknowledged that the UN and the UK had done fantastic work in this area. And, he stressed that while the Caribbean appreciated the money that was given in the wake of the hurricanes, it was insufficient to build back these nations.

His presentation was one of several, in sessions that were mounted on day one of the conference, which was delivered under the theme, "The Future of Tourism in the Caribbean Region".