PRIME Minister Philip “Brave” Davis. (File photo)
By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Tribune Chief Reporter
PRIME Minister Philip “Brave” Davis says his goal is to reduce the country’s debt to gross domestic product ratio from 82 percent to at least 50 percent by the end of this term.
During an interview with Bloomberg in New York yesterday, Mr Davis also sought to set the record straight that The Bahamas was in the position to fulfil its obligations despite the debt the country faces.
This debt, he said, was directly linked to the consequences of climate change in the form of hurricanes that have brought devastation to the country over the years.
Mr Davis is in New York for the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, where he will deliver The Bahamas’ statement. The session began on Tuesday.
“There is some misinformation that’s in the marketplace that suggests that our debt sustainability is such that we will not be able to fulfil our obligations in the future,” Mr Davis said yesterday.
“Far from the truth. One just has to come and see what is happening in our country. I was elected in September 2021. When we came in, the debt to GDP ratio was over 100 percent. In less than a year we’ve brought it down to 82 percent and the trajectory is (to continue) carrying it down.”
Asked whether his administration was working toward a goal, Mr Davis said: “We’re trying to get it to at least 50 percent by the end of my term. My term may not be the next five years, it may be more, but by the end of this term we hope to bring it down to the 50 percent. We’re working towards it.”
He continued: “What I want to say though is that the responsibility of our debt is not of our own making because if one were to look at the profile of our debt and how it was incurred you would find that up to 40 or more percent of that debt is directly related to the consequences of climate change.
“So, for example, we had Dorian in 2019. The loss in damage resulting from that was $3.4bn. Previously we had Matthew. (In) 2016 we had Matthew (and) that was $750m in loss damage.
“(In) 2015 we had Joaquin, which was another $400 (million) or $500 million odd in loss and then previous to that we had Irma, Maria and several other hurricanes and so most of our debt is basically related to matters to which we did not contribute and so the industrialised countries that have been using fossil fuel for centuries I think their bill is due.”
He was also asked if he thinks that debt forgiveness should be one of the ways that industrialised countries are held accountable for their carbon emission that affect small island developing states.
“Debt forgiveness or we need to find (a way) to make these industrialised countries accountable for what we’ve had. What you must remember is that most people are now talking about mitigation and adaptation,” Mr Davis said.
“Loss and damage is still not making its way to the agenda and when you look at mitigation you’re talking about reducing the carbon emissions when you’re talking about adaptation we’re building for resilience and to be able to adapt.
“But what we have to realise is that there is still a lot of carbon in the air. It is not enough to just reduce our emissions.
“Now there is still a lot of carbon in the air that has to be sucked out. It has to be not just mitigation. It has to be a means of pulling out of the air some of the carbons that have already been there because of the conduct and actions of the industrialised countries.”
The prime minister also talked about the exclusion faced by small island developing states from the World Bank in receiving funding.
“Accessing these funds, the criteria they use excludes a number of our small island developing states. They look at our per capita income as one of the criteria to access climate funding and that would not be fair to many of our countries.”