by Linda Straker
An initiative of The Nature Conservancy can see at least 3 Caribbean countries engaging in “debt swapping” that can work in the interest of nature or projects aimed at sustainable developments.
According to Rob Weary of the Nature Conservancy, through the initiative, millions of dollars will be redirected to the islands, and all that will be required is for them to divert that money to environmental projects through the territory’s sustainable development programme.
Nature Conservancy has already successful negotiated millions for the Seychelles Island, and as a result, other islands approached them for similar deals. After present, negotiations are ongoing for 6 territories, 3 of which are for the Caribbean islands of Grenada, St Kitts, and Jamaica.
Explaining that debt swapping is not debt forgiveness, but rather debt redirection, Weary who is a financial specialist at TNC said that through the initiative, his organisation will negotiate to have the debt purchased by a third party, which will then be transferred to a trust established in accordance with the relevant national law.
“So for example, instead of Grenada making payment to the external creditor, they will now make payment to the internal trust and the money will be used for environmental based developmental programmes,” he said while explaining that his organisation will raise the capital to transfer the debt to the trust.
Through monitoring, once the Government of the participating state is abiding with the agreement of the “swapping deal” the debt will be totally wiped out, and there will be more developmental programmes in the participating territories.
Weary disclosed that his organisation is close to finalising a deal for St Kitts that will provide for the swapping of almost EC$29 million, but was tight-lipped about the other islands.