Small states deserve a voice: AG

April 27, 2022 5:50 am

Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. [File Photo]

Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says small states deserve a voice in the long-awaited reform of the world’s debt architecture.

He made the comments during the 2022 Economic and Social Council Forum on Financing for Development on the topic “Aligning the global debt architecture with the SDGs: What will it take?”

The Attorney General says the citizens of Small States did not choose to be those who suffer the most from global disasters that they did not cause.

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“We and other vulnerable nations are being punished for it by a system of debt architecture that was never built to serve our needs. The global financial system serves as a secure foundation for wealthy countries in times of crisis, but its cracks can swallow developing nations. The smaller we are, the further we can fall. Developing countries on average spend five times more than developed countries to service their borrowings often to response to crisis.”

He says some ten percent of Fiji’s debt burden is owed to climate disasters alone and as the scale of these disasters increases, so must the access to concessional finance.

Fiji supports calls for the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to explore and propose well-structured debt for nature swaps or other structural financing changes. We urge the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and other multilateral institutions to ensure that eligibility for their climate-related programs and funding is based on our climate vulnerability and not our OECD income status. And we call on MDBs to take a more nuanced and sophisticated approach to their assessments of debt sustainability rather than rely on over-simplistic and increasingly irrelevant metrics.

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