NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Deputy Prime Minister K Peter Turnquest said yesterday the Ministry of Finance will ‘most certainly evaluate’ the offer of temporary support from the United States for access to International Monetary Fund (IMF) concessional financing and other support for increased expenditures due to COVID-19.
Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley recently revealed during the Twentieth Special Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM that after months of lobbying, the United States has leveraged its leadership at the IMF to provide $1.7 billion in new emergency funding for Caribbean countries, as a direct response to COVID-19.
Mottley indicated that both US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and Secretary of Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, had signed a letter to support the funding grant, and promised that if requested, the United States would support temporary access to the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, for COVID-19 related assistance for the Bahamas and Barbados, the two Caribbean graduates from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
Yesterday, Turnquest said: “We have received this correspondence with offer of temporary support from the United States for the Bahamas and Barbados to access concessional financing and other direct and indirect support for increased expenditures as a result of COVID-19.
“This is a departure from the normal position of the United States, which traditionally objected to graduated or high income countries like ours benefiting from lower financing cost options. This support they note is temporary and is in direct recognition of the tremendous fiscal impact this pandemic is having on vulnerable economies, particularly tourism dependent economies like ours.”
Turnquest said: “My team at the Ministry of Finance will most certainly evaluate these offers to see what we may be able to access given the increased financing needs for health related matters in particular as well as other social benefits to support income replacement and the social safety net package.
“Any financing will be evaluated within the context of the borrowing resolution and the budget just approved through both houses of Parliament.”