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10% of Fiji’s debt owed to disasters

 

Apr 26, 2022 12:20:54 PM

10% of Fiji’s debt owed to disasters Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says some ten percent of Fiji’s debt burden is owed to climate disasters alone.

While speaking at the United Nations Economic and Social Council Forum, he said as the scale of these disasters increases, so must the country’s access to concessional finance.

He said while the government had to borrow hundreds of millions, Fiji successfully negotiated low-cost loans and attracted development assistance.

“While Fiji’s debts are sustainable under any lens of analysis, we find serious fault with these outdated assessments,” he said.

“Debt to gross domestic product ratio for example is too crude a tool to analyse the complexity of this issue. The cost of debt is changing, so why isn’t our thinking?

“Is it still debt if the terms are so concessional that much of it becomes a grant by the time it is paid as you don’t borrow a grant?

“Most importantly, we have shown we know how to strategically use the finance available to us. We are building back better, bluer and greener,” he said.

He said in 2018, Fiji became the first emerging economy to issue a sovereign green bond.

“We are strengthening climate resilience across our entire infrastructure network; relocating communities, and harnessing nature to protect our people,” he said.

“Through the sustainable development goals fund and United Nation Capital Development Fund, we’re leveraging private finance to protect reefs and build resilient coastal ecosystems.

“Also, we’re funding more ocean action through a blue bond issuance later this year. We are repurposing entire sectors around sustainability including tourism to prioritise nature.

“We are retooling our security forces around the operational focus of climate security through our work with development partners.

“Climate vulnerable countries should be empowered to continue becoming centres for innovation. Big, global solutions always start small and they can start with us,” he said.

He said the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and other multilateral institutions should ensure that eligibility for climate-related funding is based on climate vulnerability.

By Nacanieli Tuilevuka

 

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