BEIJING: Bahamas Prime Minister and CARICOM Chairman Perry Christie says Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries want to use a $US 3 billion concessionary facility announced by China last year for debt restructuring and refinancing, among other initiatives.
Christie made the comment while addressing the inaugural Ministerial meeting of the China-Community of Latin American and Caribbean States Forum (China-CELAC) in Beijing, which concluded last week.
On his first-ever visit to the Caribbean last July, Chinese President Xi Jingping said that the financing facility would be made available to the eight CARICOM countries that have diplomatic relations with Beijing.
“I believe that this type of concessional loan is something that will be increased in the future,” said China’s Ambassador to Trinidad & Tobago, Hung Caio Ming, at the time.
During the meeting, Prime Minister Christie said while it welcomes the $US 3 billion commitment, CARICOM will propose to use the funds for budget support, debt restructuring and refinancing.
Christie said that since energy, water, sanitation, coastal protection, and protection of critical coastal infrastructure are central to the capacity of CARICOM countries, all efforts must be considered to mitigate the effects of climate change.
“The reality is that a five foot rise in sea level would eliminate 80 per cent of the Bahamas. Climate change is real for the Bahamas; it is a threat to our very existence.
“In this context, we actively encourage the building of the Sino-Latin American and Caribbean Cooperation Fund to provide resources according to the needs and priorities of the recipient countries.”
Christie said CARICOM countries want to see greater participation of emerging market economies based on “legitimacy, fair representation, responsiveness and flexibility”.
He said currently, the criterion for allowing or denying access to concessional finances is based on gross domestic product (GDP) per capita income and that CARICOM is pushing to eliminate this practice, as it does not adequately reflect the disparities and differences in development with the various islands.
The China-CELAC Forum was established with the objective of promoting political, economic, trade, people-to-people, social and foreign co-operation between China and the Caribbean and Latin American countries.