FOURTEENTH SITTING OF THE SECOND SESSION OF THE FOURTH HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY
PREMIER AND MINISTER OF FIANCE
HONOURABLE ANDREW A. FAHIE
PREMIER’S STATEMENT ON ECLAC/CDCC AND CARIBBEAN DEVELOPMENT ROUNDTABLE
I wish to update this honourable House on my participation in three recent virtual United Nations meetings that took place against the backdrop of COVID-19.
Mr. Speaker, on 10th September I attended the 28th Session of the Caribbean Development and Cooperation Committee (CDCC), which is the permanent subsidiary body of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in our region.
I and other Heads of Government, Ministers and Ambassadors discussed the impact of COVID-19 on the Caribbean and the urgent need for external financial support to several of the countries whose tourism dependent economies are rapidly contracting or on the brink of collapse.
We agreed that the economic case for the region’s developing countries to receive external financial support should be advanced to the UN organised Heads of State meeting on COVID-19 on 29thSeptember; and also that the Governments of the Caribbean region should continue to seek out innovative solutions with partners to cope with the crisis.
The CDCC session’s keynote address was given by Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies. Sir Hilary described the historical exploitation of the Caribbean by the colonial powers which he argued is at the root of the fragile position the countries of the region are in today.
He also called for reparatory justice from the European powers to help place the Caribbean on a stable footing for the future.
To achieve this, Sir Hilary said a Marshal Plan for the Caribbean is needed in which there is massive investment into the region by those countries, banks, corporations and other institutions that benefitted from slavery and colonialism.
Mr. Speaker, his core message deeply resonated with me, and I am sure would resonate with many persons here in the BVI.
Mr. Speaker, the CDCC also held elections to select its new leadership.
I am pleased to report that I was elected on behalf of the BVI as a Vice Chair of the body and will serve a two-year term alongside fellow Vice Chairs Cuba and Dominica; and Montserrat as Rapporteur.
Together we will support the new Chair, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
This is the BVI’s third consecutive term in the post, which demonstrates the region’s confidence in us, particularly after sustained UN engagement over the last 18 months under my leadership.
In my role as Vice Chair, I will support the implementation of the CDCC agenda that is focused on mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on the Caribbean.
Additionally, I will advocate for the sustainable development of the 15 Associate Member Countries of ECLAC.
This includes Co-Chairing with ECLAC an Associate Members Summit in 2021 to look at our progress, challenges and needs in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
Mr. Speaker, I personally thanked the Head of ECLAC, Executive Secretary Alicia Barcena, and the Head of ECLAC’s Subregional Headquarters for the Caribbean, Mrs. Diane Quarless, for the regional commission’s support to the BVI, especially for the technical assistance that will be provided to support our development of a National Sustainable Development Plan.
Notably Mr. Speaker, I also participated in the 6th Caribbean Development Roundtable (CDR) on 10thSeptember organised virtually by ECLAC. I was a special guest.
The meeting primarily focused on the proposals presented at the recent High-Level meeting of Finance Ministers sponsored by the UN to address the economic impact of COVID-19, which I also attended.
The Finance Ministers called for extraordinary measures to support developing countries that are economically struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In my remarks at the CDR, I provided an update on the BVI’s own COVID-19 challenges and called for the international community to finally establish vulnerability as the key criterion for determining assistance to Small Island Developing States (SIDS), regardless of income level.
I also emphasised that in the eventual global recovery from COVID-19, the BVI has a positive role to play in channeling the needed investment over the medium- to long-term to help return the world economy to a healthy rate of growth so that people can live better lives. This was well received by ECLAC.
Mr. Speaker, as the UN continues to grapple with COVID-19, my Government will remain engaged with the relevant agencies and forums to ensure our views are heard.
I look forward to updating this honourable House in due course on the full range of support the BVI is receiving from among for the UN family of agencies to support our COVID-19 response.
I yield the floor.