Prime Minister Minnis addresses 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

Prime Minister the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis reiterated the call for the institutionalization of a vulnerability index that allows countries like The Bahamas to access international financing based on the level of exposure, vulnerability and ability to recover from exogenous shocks.

The Prime Minister made the call today in a pre-recorded address to the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

“Pandemics, hurricanes or climatic events do not discriminate between low-income countries, middle-income countries and developed economies,” said the Prime Minister.

“Hence, the compelling question remains, as to why middle-income countries are still being assessed by international financial institutions using outdated methodologies that give no consideration to a country’s level of exposure, vulnerability and ability to recover from exogenous shocks.”

The Prime Minister said the economies of small island developing states, including those of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), are under constant assault from various external shocks beyond their control.

Small island developing countries like The Bahamas always appear to be operating in a vicious recovery mode cycle, having to deal with successive exogenous shocks and climatic events, said Prime Minister Minnis.

He noted that The Bahamas experienced major hurricanes in 2015, 2016, 2017 and in September 2019, Hurricane Dorian, the largest Atlantic storm in recorded history.

The Prime Minister also noted that when he addressed the UN General Assembly in 2019, in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, he implored world leaders to treat the global climate emergency as the greatest challenge facing humanity.

“Little did we know that just a few months later, an even greater challenge would emerge, forcing the world to come to a grinding halt, at a proportion not witnessed since the Second World War,” said Prime Minister Minnis.

While The Bahamas grapples with impact of COVID-19, Hurricane Dorian restoration and rebuilding efforts are ongoing. He said The Bahamas continues to reach out to its international partners for much-needed assistance.

In The Bahamas, as in other countries, the economic slowdown caused by COVID-19 has caused an unprecedented increase in unemployment, prompting the activation of an Unemployment Benefits Programme and Self-Employed Assistance Programme, as well as other social safety programmes including the National Food Distribution Programme, the largest feeding programme in the country’s history, said Prime Minister Minnis.

“The Bahamas is carefully formulating the gradual re-opening of the country to visitors,” said the Prime Minister. “We hope to welcome some tourists this year. However, as we adjust to this new normal, we acknowledge that no country can survive this pandemic alone.

The United Nations General Assembly is being held virtually this year under the theme, “The future we want, the United Nations we need reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism – confronting COVID-19 through effective multilateral action.”