COVID-19: Antiguan PM writes IMF/World Bank requesting help
Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister, Gaston Browne has written to the IMF and the World Bank asking them to consider implementing measures to help small-island states cope with the impact of COVID-19.
In a letter dated March 30, he outlined the devastating impact of the coronavirus and asked IMF Managing Director, Kristalina Georgieva and World Bank President, David Malpass to consider implementing measures to offer support to small and vulnerable economies.
PM Browne suggested the suspension of per capita income as a criteria 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 believes the COVID-19 pandemic could surpass the global consequences of the 2008 financial crisis.
Drawing reference to tourism-dependant countries, he said: “The stoppage of airlines and cruise ships have 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 arrest its spread.”
In his letter, PM Browne said this has caused a significant and unsustainable drop in government revenue while simultaneously increasing government expenditure as they attempt to improve infrastructure at the national health facilities.
He said in his letter that it will be at least a year before the tourism industry returns to some semblance of normalcy.
“Many of our economies will shrink by then, recording negative growth and lacking the capacity to provide the fiscal stimulus required for recovery,” he said.
With the dreaded hurricane season just two months away, PM Browne said the effects of a hurricane would be beyond catastrophic.
Today, he will further advance the region’s case during a meeting of the World Bank where the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will be discussed.
He will be joined by Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Bank, Timothy Antoine and Director General of the OECS, Dr Didacus Jules.