COVID-19: World yet to unite for global response — UN Deputy Chief

The UN Deputy Secretary-General, Ms Amina Mohammed, says the world is yet to unite for a global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mohammed stated this on Tuesday at a virtual meeting of Ministers of Finance on Financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond.

She said: “ with lockdown measures continuing, borders closed, debts skyrocketing and fiscal resources plunging, the pandemic is pushing the world towards its worst recession in decades”.

Mohammed emphasised that immediate multilateral actions were required for the world to defeat the virus and sustainably recover from the attendant social-economic crises.

She said although international institutions, including the World Bank and the International Monterey Fund (IMF), had taken actions to address the pandemic, the measures were working only for some countries.

“We have heard the projections of the dire consequences: between 70 and 100 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty, and additional 265 million people could face food shortages by the end of this year.

“An estimated 400 million jobs have been lost, disproportionately affecting women. Some 1.6 billion learners have had their studies disrupted.

“Finding an immediate and lasting solution is our responsibility,” she said.

Mohammed called for a new global financial system that would work in “these unprecedented times”.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting was convened by the Deputy Secretary-General and the Finance Ministers of Canada and Jamaica.

Among others, the meeting was to present a single ambitious menu of policy options to countries, to recover from the health and its attendant social-economic crises.

The Deputy Prime Minister of Canada, Ms Chrystia Freeland, also underscored the essential role of multilateralism in tackling the challenges.

Freeland, who is also Canada’s Minister of Finance, said the global health and economic systems required collective strength to deliver.

“In today’s interconnected world, the global health system depends on the strength of all of us and on our collaboration first to control and conquer COVID-19 and to ensure a sustainable global economic recovery.

“We can only overcome these challenges together. The pandemic has made acutely clear the vulnerabilities at domestic and international levels.

“It has also highlighted what we can do better to build back, in order to respond to this crisis to ensure no one is left behind,” she said.

Speaking in the same vein, Mr Nigel Clarke, Jamaica’s Minister of Finance and the Public Service, stressed the need for the global community to “mount an urgent, effective and coordinated response”.

“While we are all affected, certain regions are more exposed and need urgent support.

“The tourism dependent and moderate to highly indebted economies of the Caribbean, other small island developing states as well as many low-income countries have borne the brunt of the social economic impact of the pandemic.

“An external shock of this magnitude has obvious credit implications, which will be more acute in developing countries that are encountering the crisis with high debt burden, low level of foreign exchange reserves and large current account deficits.

“As such, we support the multilateral and other initiatives that have been taken to assist developing countries to access the credit needed to finance the COVID-19 response,” Clarke said. 

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