PM: hurricane hit islands need Marshall Plan type assistance

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A Marshall Plan is perhaps what is needed to help islands like Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica recover from the widespread devastation left behind by hurricanes Irma and Maria last month.
That’s the conclusion of Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne, who said the storms have set the nations back by “decades” and it’ll take a lot of money for them to rebuild.
“The truth is, with the extent of the carnage in the region, a Marshall Plan may well be needed in order to recover the loss grounds. Many of us are highly indebted countries and for us to take on hundreds of millions of dollars to rebuild, clearly will create another problem” he said.
The Marshall Plan (officially the European Recovery Programme, ERP) was an American initiative to aid Western Europe, in which the United States gave over $13 billion in economic support to help rebuild Western European economies after the end of World War II. The plan was in operation for four years beginning April 8, 1948.
The Plan required a lessening of interstate barriers, a dropping of many regulations, and encouraged an increase in productivity, labour union membership, as well as the adoption of modern business procedures.
The prime minister said such a plan is not a far-fetched idea. He made that comment when he met with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Saturday.
Speaking of the cost to fix the damage, he said, “It will worsen our debt overhang which is already a major issue, so borrowing is not the solution.  What we require perhaps is a combination of Official Development Assistance (ODA) as well as concessional loans,” he said.
The prime minister also highlighted the challenges Antigua and Barbuda faces in meeting development goals of the United Nations (UN).
Browne made the case that Antigua and Barbuda along with other countries in the region are being affected “disproportionately” by natural disasters. He explained that this is not only the result of the artificial change in climate but other “artificial impediments,” including the unfair financial conditions of international bodies in times of disaster.
“Loan funds alone cannot do it,” the prime minister proclaimed.
He stated that when multinational organisations exit financial relationships with Caribbean territories considered high risk or unprofitable, through derisking, the decrease in remittances that result, is counter-productive to the sustainable development goals agreed on by all U.N. signatory countries.
The country’s leader added that the World Banks’ evaluation of Antigua and Barbuda as a “middle income country” precludes the government from taking loans of less than 10 percent interest and also from receiving Official development assistance (ODA) from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
“I would like that nonsensical criteria to be scrapped,” Browne stated. He explained that Antigua is not a middle-income country especially when considering that the government had to borrow to pay government salaries after the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma.
He chastised Britain for “abandoning” British territories Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands. These colonial territories also do not qualify for ODA because their per capita income is too high.
Browne explained to the secretary-general that the economic difficulty in rebuilding Antigua and Barbuda is uniquely compounded by the decline in income from tourism.

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