PM Gonsalves vows to ‘fight’ World Bank over higher interest rate

PM Gonsalves vows to ‘fight’ World Bank over higher interest rate

St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves says he will “fight” the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) over a proposal that Caribbean countries pay higher interest rates on loans.

According to the World Bank’s website, “the “IDA works with a large network of global, regional and local partners to reach poorest people and deliver sustainable results”.

Gonsalves, speaking on the state-owned NBC Radio, said that he would write to the leader of every country in the world as the Washington-based financial institution suggested last week that the interest rates paid by more developed Caribbean countries move from between one and two per cent to between 3.3 and 6.8 per cent.

Further, the repayment period for loans will move from 50 years to between 30 and 35 years.

“Because we are doing so well, they say countries like us and Dominica, Grenada and St Lucia, they want to reduce the generosity of the terms of these loans,” Gonsalves said, noting the proposed new terms.

“Well, I going fight; I going fight them. The World Bank want to go in the opposite direction? No! They have to be fought,” Gonsalves told radio listeners.

“And I’m going to write every single leader in the world about this. I am going to write the Secretary General of the United Nations; I’m going to lead a campaign from the podium of the United Nations about this absurdity,” he said.

“And you going hear more from me on it. And I expect other leaders for us to join,” he said, adding that he had called the Director General of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, Dr Didacus Jules, of which his country is a  member, on Tuesday about the matter.

“And I have to talk to my fellow heads,” he said, referring to leaders of the larger CARICOM bloc.

“I can’t believe that this is the proposal coming out from a World Bank where I spoke with the President of the World Bank in Paris in June last year. And President [of France Emmanuel Macron had a meeting,” he said, referring to the international gathering to which he and his Barbados counterpart, Mia Mottley as well as Haiti’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry were invited.

“You can’t talk besoothing words there and that in the silk glove, there is a clenched fist of the hammer,” Gonsalves said.

“I understand that you want to help countries poorer than us. And I want that too. But don’t divide between the poor and the vulnerable,” he said.

“You’re telling me and taking climate change into account anymore or the high debt which comes to us because we have to borrow to either prepare for climate change or after the damage caused by climate change?

“You want me to be going up a down escalator where the downward movement of the escalator is fast and more ferocious than the slow upward climb? No! No! No! No! No! No! No!” the prime minister said.

He asked the media to raise the issues, saying “so, I’m telling them and I want the newspapers in this country and the region to report what I’m saying here today.

“This is a wicked move and to try to drive a wedge between the poor in Africa and Asia and other parts of the world — poor nations — against our island nations in the Caribbean and the Pacific, those of us who are doing reasonably okay,” Gonsalves said.

“But we could be wiped out overnight. And to maintain our sustainable development, we need the support of the World Bank. So, I want to put that on the table this morning,” he added.

  • PublishedMarch 22, 2024

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *