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Mon, 22 May 2023 Feature Article

Tweaking The Conscience of the World

Tweaking The Conscience of the World
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In her speech at COP27 in Egypt the Prime Minister of Barbados observed that in the area of global financing the world today still has a noticeable resemblance to the era of Caucasian imperialistic empires. Prime Minister Motley, who has been championing the cause of major reforms in international financing and the institutions largely responsible for global financing, lamented that countries of the South are still disproportionately at the mercy of the countries of the North.

To drive home her point about the disparities in concessions existing between the North and the South Ms. Motley cited the borrowing interest rates extended to the North which stood at between one to four percent. Conversely, nations of the South were paying interest rates in the vicinity of fourteen percent on loans from international lending agencies.

In another forum organized by the Rockefeller Foundation Ms. Motley decried the fact that interest rates on existing loans extended to her country had been raised by the World Bank, the IMF, and the Latin American Bank. Ms. Motley frankly stated that she had to beg the World Bank for a loan after Barbados was devastated by the COVID19 crisis. After granting the loan, the World Bank raised the interest rates from 1,09 % to 5.48%. Ms. Motley also pointed out that the repayment period of loans from the international lending agencies was shorted that the repayment period for a personal mortgage.

Andrew Mitchell, the current Minister of State for Development for the British government, augmented Ms. Motley message in the same interview by stating that there is mounting anger around the world among the poor because of the failure of the richer nations to deliver on the promises made to alleviate the plight of the poorer nations.

Ms. Motley, and perhaps Mr. Mitchell to some degree, proposed that discussions so far on international financing had been vague with regard to timespans, scope and specific measures needed to bring about real meaningful progress. The lack of political will was cited as the major obstacle in the path of raising and disbursing finances so badly needed by the South as poor nations grapple with the aftermath of the COVID19 crisis, diminishing financial liquidity, climate crises and a host of other existential threats.

The disparities in the international system of finance clearly have many nations of the South walking on a tightrope. The Deputy Secretary-General of the IMF is on record stating that 52 developing countries, home to half the world’s poor are suffering from severe debt problems. This source adds that 25 of the 52 developing nations are being forced to spend twenty percent or more of their public revenue on servicing external debt.

The perpetuation of the current global status quo in international financing can only spell disaster in the near future for most of the human family. The hoarding of wealth in the North and by multinational corporations will only serve to exasperate social and political conditions in the South. Without the much-needed correctives being advanced by Ms. Motley in her Bridgetown Initiative, many of the 52 nations on debt row could disintegrate and become failed states.

Towards the end of the interview hosted by the Rockefeller Foundation a journalist asked Ms. Motley if she foresaw or was looking forward to social unrest as a result of the inertia and the slow rate of change in the system of international financing. After dismissing the question as a no brainer, Ms. Motley used the question as a platform to make the point that reforming the global system of financing should be seen as an investment and not an act of charity to the global South.

In her closing statement Ms. Motley threw out a solidarity challenge to the people of the Northern Hemisphere who are equally being impacted by climate change and the same economic issues confronting people of the Southern Hemisphere. In her final salvo, she charged the masses in both hemispheres to pressure their leadership to act in the best interest of humanity and the planet that we call home.

Lenrod Nzulu Baraka is the founder of Afro Caribbean Spiritual Teaching Center and the author of The Rebirth of Black Civilization: Making Africa and the Caribbean Great Again

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