Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne will ask the Paris Club to consider debt forgiveness of more than US$100 million.
The Paris Club is an informal group of creditor nations whose objective is to find workable solutions to payment problems faced by debtor nations. Its membership includes a majority of the western European and Scandinavian countries, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan.
Yesterday, April 16, at the weekly Cabinet meeting, Browne explained that the coronavirus (COVID-19) will have a serious impact on the socio-economic future of the region, especially among tourism-dependent territories.
In a statement issued after the meeting, the prime minister revealed that “the Paris Club is owed about US$150, million and this is the opportune time for the country to press for forgiveness”.
Browne also reported that in his discussions with Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) Timothy Antoine, “there was an acknowledgement that a seven per cent decline in economic activity for 2020 among the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) members seemed extremely optimistic.
In addition, the governor conceded that the projections of a five per cent growth in 2021 also appeared unlikely, given the reality facing the sub-regional Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
“The Governor agreed to consult further and to amend the projections upon closer examination. However, the ECCB may make as much as EC$100 million available to its members. Local banks are also likely to make a similar amount available for borrowing,” the statement noted.
According to the statement, Brown informed Cabinet members that they need to begin considering a post-COVID-19 recovery plan.
“The Administration is to begin by pressing the private sector managers and entrepreneurs, academicians, political parties and trade unions into service. It was agreed that Cabinet would create the Economic Recovery Commission (and that) leaders from these most-significant sectors will be asked to join so that all voices can be heard and be reflected when the plan is constructed,” the statement said.