A-G Pushes Agenda For Small Island States

“We, the victims, suffer more and pay more to the same system that rewards the perpetrators with cheap finance – that is the fundamental injustice at the heart of our global debt architecture.
27 Apr 2022 11:25
A-G Pushes Agenda For Small Island States
Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum addressing the 2022 ECOSOC Forum on Financing for Development.

Developing countries, on average, spend five times more than developed countries to service their borrowing. Often its respond to crisis we didn’t cause.

This is what Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said while addressing members of the 2022 United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Forum on Financing for Development yesterday.

Since Fiji signed the Paris Agreement in 2015, the country has battled 13 cyclones, resulting in half of its Gross Domestic Product being wiped out.

“The citizens of Small States did not choose to be those who suffer the most from global disasters we did not cause. As their leaders, protecting our people’s lives and livelihoods is no less of a choice –– it is our duty,” he said.

He said being the first country to sign the agreement, the loss Fiji had suffered was equivalent to a $13 trillion loss from the US economy.

“We, the victims, suffer more and pay more to the same system that rewards the perpetrators with cheap finance – that is the fundamental injustice at the heart of our global debt architecture.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with Russia’s war on Ukraine would continue to exploit Fiji’s vulnerability as an island economy.

“Combined, these crises would have driven hundreds of thousands of Fijians into destitution. We have not let that happen,” he said.

“We’ve used every fiscal resource we could muster to respond and reset the course toward the 2030 Agenda.

“Any responsible leader would do the same –– yet we and other vulnerable nations are being punished for it by a system of debt architecture that was never built to serve our needs.”

He said 10 per cent of Fiji’s debt burden was owed to climate disasters.

“This isn’t the 1940s. We are not colonies anymore. We are self-determined nations. And ignoring our vulnerabilities only worsens the consequences for us and the entire market economy,” the A-G said.

“Small states’ realities, contexts, and affairs were recognised and written into the rules of the global financial system if we stand any chance of realising the SDGs.

“Fiji successfully negotiated low-cost loans and attracted development assistance. We are grateful to our development partners for their trust in our financial management, as shown through direct budgetary support. Now, our recovery is powering forward.

“We are building back better, bluer, greener and in even closer collaboration with the private sector and in line with the SDGs.”

He added that climate vulnerable countries should be empowered to continue becoming centres for innovation.

“Fiji is supporting the call for the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to explore and propose well-structured debt for nature swaps or other structural financing changes,” he said.

“We urge the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and other multilateral institutions to ensure that eligibility for their climate-related programmes and funding is based on our climate vulnerability and not our OECD income status.

“We deserve a voice in the long-awaited reform of the world’s debt architecture. First, the world must choose to hear us.”




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