Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has missed a golden opportunity to lobby for debt-relief for hurricane-hit Dominica, argued Naparima MP Rodney Charles in a statement yesterday.
He said Rowley should have gone to New York to address the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), rather than Minister of Foreign Affairs Dennis Moses.
Saying Moses will today (Saturday) face empty seats in his address on the assembly’s last day, Charles said that had Rowley attended, he would have spoken much earlier and so addressed most of the 187 delegations (under UN protocols that give Heads of Government precedence over Ministers in speaking.)
“He will therefore miss a golden opportunity to inform a larger global audience on the urgent need for regional, financial and other assistance from international aid agencies in the wake of recent hurricanes.” Hurricane-hit Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne on Thursday highlighted his country’s plight and pleaded for international assistance.
“Dr Rowley, instead of offering piece meal help like temporary residence status, could have used our national and regional clout to argue frontally for debt relief for Caricom countries ravished by natural disasters.” He said Dominica’s debt to GDP ratio is a hefty 93 percent, while Antigua and Barbuda’s is 67 percent.
“This Keith Rowley Government must grow up and realise that it has to develop strategic and well thought out policies, plans and programs to confront and overcome our national and regional challenges.
“TT missed an opportunity to demonstrate decisiveness and leadership at the UNGA. Our regional brothers and sisters would have been much better off had Dr. Rowley chosen to exercise that leadership by being present in New York.”
Charles said most Caricom States do not qualify for development aid under UN rules and from international agencies like the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), as these countries are deemed to be too wealthy given their relatively high GDPs. He noted that UK Prime Minister Theresa May recently lamented that St Kitts and Nevis and Overseas British Territories could not access development aid from the OECD's US$100 billion budget.