World Health Organisation (WHO) chief emphasised the need for debt relief for developing countries to enable them to avoid economic collapse due to the pandemic. Addressing a media briefing on April 1, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus gave the example of Prime Minister Narendra Modi announcing a $24 billion package for disadvantaged people but highlighted that many developing countries will struggle to implement such social welfare programs.
WHO chief said that lockdowns and stay-at-home orders can help limit the spread of the virus but such measures can have unintended consequences for the poorest and most vulnerable people. Ghebreyesus added that he has called on governments to put in place social welfare measures to ensure vulnerable people have food and other life essentials during this crisis.
Earlier, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) called for an urgent $2.5 trillion aid package to help developing countries avoid worst-case scenarios due to the coronavirus pandemic. It asked for debt jubilee for distressed economies and suggested to use German debt relief, administered after World War II, as a benchmark.
Following the call, United Nations chief Antonio Guterres announced the establishment of a trust fund to support low-and middle-income countries to respond to the emergency and recover from the socio-economic shock from COVID-19 pandemic. The UN Secretary-General announced the new multi-partner Trust Fund for COVID-19 Response and Recovery while launching the report, on March 31, on the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic.
Guterres called for a large-scale, coordinated multilateral response amounting to 10 per cent of the GDP but highlighted the limitations of developing countries in doing so. The UN chief said that the developed countries are capable of it on their own but underlined the necessity of massively increasing the resources for developing countries by expanding the capacity of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
“The United Nations system is fully mobilized, providing guidance for global efforts, supporting country responses and placing our supply chains at the world’s disposal,” said Guterres.
(Image Credit: Twitter / @DrTedros)