Sears urges govt. to pursue $8bn debt forgiveness

Sears urges govt. to pursue $8bn debt forgiveness

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Former Attorney General and noted attorney Alfred Sears, Q.C. has urged the government to advance a claim for debt forgiveness.

Sear’s call follows a pledge from United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres to support small island states in their joint fight against the coronavirus and global warming.

Pointing to those comments, Sears said urged the government to embrace the pledge “by advancing, in concert with CARICOM, a claim for debt forgiveness for its $8.7 billion and commit to a post COVID-19 reform agenda”.

Sears noted that the reform agenda should include climate mitigation, adaption and financing, food security, solar power generation, small and medium sized businesses, digital economy and political reform to ensure greater accountability, transparency and efficiency in the delivery of public goods.

On Monday, Guterres called on the international community to use the recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic to secure a more sustainable and resilient future.

The UN secretary general noted that while the world must work together to “save lives, ease suffering, lessen the shattering economic and social consequences and bring the disease under control”, climate change must continue to be a focus.

Small island states like The Bahamas, continue to struggle with the most severe effects of the climate crisis and now find themselves grappling with sharply contracting economies and unsustainable debt levels amidst the pandemic.

But Guterres echoed his solidarity with small island states.

“It is essential that you are supported in your efforts to adapt and build resilience,” Guterres said.

“I will continue to advocate for debt relief, including for middle income countries, to enable you to survive both the impacts of COVID-19 and the growing threats of climate change.

“Both efforts need solidarity and ambition.”

According to the government’s six-month snapshot on budgetary performance, released in January, the country’s national debt stands at $8.2 billion.

However, the government could be be facing a fiscal deficit of billions of dollars as the economy continues to reel from the impact of Hurricane Dorian and related fall-out from the COVID-19 pandemic.