Guyana has called on the international community that small island states with undiversified economies and limited resources, will find it difficult to overcome the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and could face a bleak future.
Addressing the virtual UN High-Level Meeting on “Financing for Development in the Era of Covid-19 & Beyond,” President Dr. Irfaan Ali said that the health emergency has negatively impacted economic growth, reversed decades of development as well as derailing progress towards the attainment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) while also intensifying poverty and inequality.
In his address to the virtual conference, convened by Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness, his Canadian counterpart, Justin Trudeau and the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, the newly elected Guyana head of state said that as a consequence, small states, with undiversified economies and limited resources, will find it difficult to satisfy their immediate development and recovery needs.
He said developing countries are expected, in the near-term, to experience widening fiscal deficits, the narrowing of fiscal space, reduced external financing inflows and increasing debt.
Ali said that the United Nations must spearhead the global response to the pandemic.
“At the health level, this response should involve increased access to personal protection equipment (PPE) for frontline health workers, the provision of therapeutics and equipment for patient treatment and the rollout of and support for mass immunisation when a vaccine becomes available.
“On the socio-economic front, it is imperative that global resources be mobilised to ensure a return to a sustainable development trajectory. Resources must be made available, expeditiously, using a variety of financial mechanisms including debt relief, debt-service moratoriums, concessional financing capitalisation of deferred interest payments, and grants,” Ali told the other heads of states and government leaders attending the conference.
He said these measures will facilitate the recovery of developing states.
More importantly, Ali said the confidence that with the political will, and through the establishment of the new era in global relations, global and societal inequalities will be reduced.
“Establishing this new era in global relations will require significant development support, more so now in the face of an impending global recession. For many small states, the burden of recovery from the pandemic will be too great to bear on their own.
“It is therefore of paramount importance that today’s deliberations pave the way for financial support to help small states rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic. It is equally vital that the Secretary General’s calls for a New Global Deal and New Social Contract be pursued with promptness, to ensure that recovery is aligned to reducing inequalities.”
The Guyana leader said that the discussions and proposals present a way forward in a post-COVID-19 era and reiterated the importance of a collective approach towards ensuring the future is one of prosperity and equality.