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AS I SEE THINGS: Financing for development ‘another’ challenge

Brian M. Francis, [email protected]

AS I SEE THINGS: Financing for development ‘another’ challenge

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AT PRESENT, much is being made of the recent climate change agreement. Despite the protests coming from some quarters during the recent meeting in Paris, France, that witnessed the signing of this historic agreement, many people all over the world, including top leaders such as United States President Barack Obama and the United Nations (UN) Secretary General ban Ki-moon, have welcomed the accord, citing it as a step in the right direction to save Planet Earth from the ravages of things such as rising sea levels, water and food shortages and natural disasters like storms and earthquakes.

I accept that climate change should be addressed as a global as well as local concern, despite the fact that I carry no huge amount of emotions with regards to the climate change agreemen, simply because I prefer to wait and see the extent to which the promises made will be actually carried out by the countries that have signed the accord.

But, if we are prepared to face the truth, it would be clear to all and sundry that we in the Caribbean do face another formidable challenge in relation to a different yet related issue.

And that is the problem of financing for development. Why? On September 25, 2015, the world once again witnessed the adoption of what can only be described as a go-getting global development agenda at a UN summit.

The development goals, defined for all countries globally, are being labelled the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and will call for trillions of dollars to be achieved over the next 15 to 20 years.

Think of it carefully. We in the Caribbean are already struggling to find resources to finance, in some cases, our fiscal deficits on the current side; and in other instances, our overall deficits, having included expenditures for capital projects.

Grants and other forms of official funding are also becoming more difficult to source. Yet, clearly, the trillions of dollars needed to finance the SDGs are way beyond the current capacities and capabilities of most governments and the international donor community. Where, then, do we go from here if we are determined to meet all of the development goals we have set for ourselves in the coming two decades? One approach is to follow the lead set by the World Bank. According to a report: “The World Bank Group and its partners recognise the need to leverage the ‘billions’ in official development assistance to attract and mobilise ‘trillions’ in investments of all kinds: public and private, national and global, in both capital and capacity.”

What a massive undertaking that would be! Our small Caribbean countries cannot afford to fall behind in the financing of our development. Hence, going forward, just as we need to do in relation to inter alia education and health, we have to design financing mechanisms for all other aspects of our advancement, especially in relation to the SDGs. Taxes, user fees, grants, loans, and official donations are all viable options we ought to consider.

Whatever we do by way of strategy or policy to finance our development, we always ensure that certain principles are adhered to: equity, adequacy, broad basing, compatibility and convenience.

Email: [email protected]