Finance Minister calls for increased concessional financing

Dr Ashni Singh

Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh, using the platform of the 2021 United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Forum on Financing for Development, has called for increased concessional financing for the developing world.

The Minister was at the time virtually attending the forum, where he emphasised the urgent need to address the challenges faced by Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in accessing financing to meet their development needs. This is especially in light of the targets set by the developed countries.

Singh, a statement from the Finance Ministry said, reminded the forum that the global community has entered the last decade before expected delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

He also noted that it is also a uniquely challenging time in human history since the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked more havoc worldwide than any other public health issue in living memory. This has also had the effect of exacerbating pre-existing systemic challenges in the global economy.

“Vulnerable countries, including Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and low-lying coastal states such as Guyana are still grappling with these pre-existing challenges while we now confront the harsh and lasting socioeconomic impacts of the pandemic,” he said.

“I reiterate the heightened urgency with which the official development assistance targets set by developed countries now need to be met. I also repeat the call for the use of a vulnerability index to supplement the criteria for determining access to concessional financing.”

He also noted that the immediate and most urgent challenge was stemming the pandemic, but highlighted that Guyana was concerned that developing countries were encountering hurdles in accessing adequate supplies of vaccines at affordable prices and on fair terms.

“Achieving herd immunity in our population is absolutely critical to our economic recovery. I emphasise the need to ensure affordable and adequate access to vaccines, particularly for the most vulnerable States,” Dr Singh pointed out as he underscored the urgency of upscaling action towards full implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.

The Senior Finance Minister also highlighted that in Guyana’s case, it has spent heavily on its response to the pandemic, as total expenditure increased by 15.2 per cent in 2020 and the Central Government’s fiscal deficit expanded to 9.4 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2020 compared to 2.8 per cent in 2019.

However, the Minister pointed out that more resources were now required to coordinate health responses, ensure equitable access to healthcare, and invest in recovery.

Additionally, global partnership and solidarity are more critical now than ever before. Singh also expressed disappointment that the commitment by developed countries to provide $100 billion in climate finance by 2020 has not been met.

“This must be remedied urgently. Further, we must explore innovative financing methods which would require the strong support of development banks at all levels. Guyana strongly advocates enhanced support for low-carbon development models,” Dr Singh urged.

The purpose of the forum was to encourage high-level political engagement to advance priority actions that will set the world on track for the recovery and beyond, and to allow for the promotion and sharing of concrete national, regional and global experiences and initiatives on financing the SDGs in a rapidly-evolving context.