Caribbean needs fiscal and policy space, says Barbados PM

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Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Amor Mottley [ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images]

By Sharon Austin

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (BGIS) — The Caribbean needs fiscal and policy space to achieve sustainable development so it can be nimble, adaptable and innovative. This assessment came today from prime minister Mia Amor Mottley, as she delivered a statement to the 74 United Nations General Debate, in New York.

Mottley told her audience: “We don’t come here as a proud people asking for handouts. We…will not be mendicant. What we want, no, what we need is fiscal and policy space to achieve sustainable development to be nimble, to adapt and to innovate, in ways that allow us to be true and faithful to the task of bringing prosperity to our people…

“We want an international order that recognizes that there must be different policy prescriptions to suit the circumstances that we all have… An equitable and just international order that is truly built on the principles of justice and fairness for all and not just for some.”

The prime minister said the Caribbean has found itself at the frontline of too many major challenges and listed them as including blacklisting, the illicit flow of weapons and non-communicable diseases.

“We continue to be confronted by problems of blacklisting, which pale into insignificance when compared to climate change, but which destroy our financial sector. The illicit flow of weapons, such that the ease with which people can go into public spaces and shoot and kill others, is now regarded as just another item on the news because we promote profit in the manufacture and trade of guns and weapons.

“Of non-communicable diseases, these strike down our people in the most insidious of ways because we allow diets that promote the prosperity of a few multinational corporations to become the norm of the day with the food that we eat and the lives that we live…. These are all threats to…people’s stability in our lands,” she pointed out.

Mottley stressed that the Caribbean had not come with tales of woe only because it had produced excellence in Nobel Laureates, sportsmen, artists, and leaders.

She said it was time the global community recognized small island developing states as equal partners in the international arena and take their special development needs into account in multilateral fora.

Growth in the economies of the developed states, she contended, must not come at the expense of the viability of small developing states.

“We are simply asking for fairness, equity and the opportunity to take our legitimate place in the global community…. Barbados is not only committed to multilateralism; we also understand that it is the one thing that protects our sovereignty and our ability to navigate in this world. It is our buffer against the display of might and it is our shield against tyranny,” Mottley said.

During the address, Mottley contended that the people of Venezuela must be allowed to decide their own future in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter of non-intervention, non-interference, the prohibition of the threat or use of force, respect for the rule of law, human rights and democracy.

With regard to Cuba, Mottley said, the long-standing economic embargo on Cuba continued to be a cause of serious concern and reaffirmed Barbados’ [has] strong opposition to this “unilateral action”.

She insisted that the recent activation of Article III of the Helms-Burton law imposed new restrictions and further exacerbated the situation. “This continued attempt to stop the people of Cuba from living with basic human dignity is unacceptable,” Mottley argued.

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