NEW YORK, 28 May 2020 — United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau and the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness, will convene world leaders and international organizations today in a joint initiative to sharpen and accelerate our global response to the significant economic and human impacts of COVID-19, and advance concrete solutions to the development emergency.
This pandemic requires a large-scale, coordinated, comprehensive multilateral response to support countries in need, enabling them to recover better for more prosperous and resilient and inclusive economies and societies.
With more than 50 Heads of State and Government participating, the High-Level Event on Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond is the most inclusive gathering of countries to focus on the socio-economic recovery and financing needs from the pandemic. We must continue to coordinate these efforts to avoid a devastating impact on people’s lives and livelihoods.
We all face economic strain in responding to this pandemic, particularly low- and middle-income countries, many of which are seeing their efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set back.
The High-Level Event looks at six urgent areas of action to mobilize the financing needed for the response and recovery. These include expanding liquidity across the global economy; addressing debt vulnerabilities; stemming illicit financial flows; increasing external finance for inclusive growth and job creation; and strategies for countries to recover better, achieve the SDGs, address climate change and restore the balance between the economy and nature.
“The pandemic has demonstrated our fragility,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “We are in an unprecedented human crisis, because of a microscopic virus. We need to respond with unity and solidarity, and a key aspect of solidarity is financial support.”
Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness said “the COVID-19 pandemic demands that we take immediate action to address its impacts on the economies of all countries, in every region of the world and at every stage of development.” He added that he welcomes the six thematic areas of focus, including the “necessity to address the urgent need for increased liquidity, particularly for low- and middle-income countries.”
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that “all countries are being tested by the COVID-19 pandemic, and it threatens to undermine our hard-won development gains. We know the best way to help all our people and economies rebound is to work together as a global community. We want to support collective and individual actions to enable a recovery that leads to more inclusive, sustainable and resilient economies, where no one is left behind.”
The cost of the pandemic
World Health Organization (WHO) figures show that the COVID-19 pandemic has already claimed more than 340,000 lives, with more than 5.4 million cases globally. Unless we act now, UN projections indicate that the pandemic could slash nearly $US8.5 trillion from the global economy over the next two years, forcing 34.3 million people into extreme poverty this year, and potentially, an additional 130 million people during this decade.
Failing businesses are already causing a surge in unemployment. The International Labour Organization (ILO) expects that global working hours in the second quarter of 2020 will be 10.5 per cent lower than before the crisis, equivalent to 305 million full-time jobs. Women are particularly affected, as they are overrepresented in sectors that have been the most affected with initial job losses. They are also the majority of those employed in the informal sector globally and on the whole tend to hold less secure jobs with fewer protections, less savings, and are more likely to live in, or close to, poverty.
The pandemic is causing economic distress even in countries that have not yet experienced the health impact in large numbers. Falling exports and growth are rapidly undermining the debt sustainability of many developing countries, particularly those that are heavily dependent on commodities, tourism revenues or remittances. Growing debt distress poses an enormous challenge to these countries, further constraining their ability to implement stimulus measures.
Even prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, almost half of all least developed and other low-income countries were in, or close to, debt distress. Debt servicing costs for these countries more than doubled between 2000 and 2019, to 13 per cent of government revenue, and reached more than 40 per cent in a quarter of all Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
Effective domestic resource mobilization will be crucial for rebuilding economies. Yet trillions of dollars are thought to be held in undeclared offshore financial holdings. The cost of money laundering has been estimated at around $US1.6 trillion a year.
Meeting the challenges
In the face of this unprecedented health, social and economic crisis, many governments across the world have rolled out large fiscal stimulus measures equivalent to an estimated 10 per cent of national gross domestic product (GDP). But most developing economies are finding it difficult or impossible to implement sufficiently large fiscal packages, which have so far averaged less than 1 per cent of their GDP.
In April 2020, the G-20 agreed to suspend debt service on bilateral official debt to 76 low-income developing countries to help increase liquidity to deal with the impacts of the crisis. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) offered further debt service relief to 25 of the poorest countries, and the World Bank has been coordinating with regional banks to discuss COVID-19 support, joint initiatives, co-financing, and ways to maximize net flows to the poorest and most vulnerable countries. But far more is needed, and quickly.
The High-Level Event will discuss a wide range of inclusive solutions, seeking input from the countries feeling the most impacted.
In the initial containment and crisis phase of the pandemic, nations have prioritized the health of people before turning to the economic and labour market consequences. As each nation charts its own course to recovery, countries are seeking to limit the economic fallout by taking steps to protect enterprises, jobs and incomes, and to stimulate the economy, and to do so in a way that protects women and families, young people, and the most vulnerable in our societies.
We must raise our ambitions in order to recover better, by building more prosperous, inclusive, resilient and sustainable economies and societies. Countries cannot afford to leave unattended the underlying fragilities at the core of our current economic and social systems. We cannot wish away systemic risks, from the climate crisis to high and persistent inequality. Everyone will benefit if we address these risks by investing up front.
The Event will include a High-Level Segment in which Heads of State and Government will express their commitment to finding multilateral solutions to the global economic crisis and its effects on the most vulnerable. In addition, a High-Level Panel of leaders from international institutions will discuss the challenges and opportunities for urgent, decisive action. Following the Panel, the High-Level Segment among Heads of State and Government, and partners will continue.
Six critical areas of focus
The Event will also launch a collaborative effort to enable discussions on concrete proposals to overcome challenges in six areas, and progress will be reported back at the margins of the High Level Political Forum in July, the General Assembly in September, and at the end of the year that include:
- The need to expand liquidity in the global economy and maintain financial stability to safeguard development gains.
- The need to address debt vulnerabilities for all developing countries to save lives and livelihoods for billions of people around the world.
- The need to create a space in which private sector creditors can proactively engage in effective and timely solutions.
- Prerequisites for enhancing external finance and remittances for inclusive growth and creating jobs.
- Measures to expand fiscal space and foster domestic resource mobilization by preventing illicit financial flows.
- Ensuring a sustainable and inclusive recovery by aligning recovery policies with the Sustainable Development Goals.
The outcomes of the High-Level Event include the formation of six discussions groups, a collaborative effort that aims at providing concrete proposals by mid-July.
There is no time to lose. Solutions cannot wait, and decisive action is required.
Courtesy of Office of the Prime Minister, Jamaica
CARPHA Remembers Former PAHO Director Emeritus – Dr. Carissa Etienne as a “Tireless Advocate for Regional Solidarity”
Port of Spain, Trinidad. 01 December, 2023: It is with profound sadness and shock that I extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends, people of Dominica, the Caribbean Community and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), on the untimely passing of PAHO Director Emeritus, Dr. Carissa Etienne.
Dr. Etienne’s contributions to public health in the Americas were not only significant, but also transformative. Her leadership and unwavering commitment to our Caribbean Community’s collective pursuit of healthier people, healthier spaces and a healthier Caribbean were a source of inspiration to many. Dr. Etienne was a tireless advocate for The Americas’ regional solidarity, for she knew that was the only way to address the glaring inequalities that exist here.
She was the Director at PAHO for most of the life of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), and under her leadership, CARPHA graduated from the PAHO Biennial Work Programme (BWP) arrangement to having framework agreements.
PAHO funded many of the programmes that are difficult to attract support, like the Caribbean Regulatory System (CRS) and the Medicines Quality Control and Surveillance Department (MQCSD), which are important services for the Region to ensure the quality of medicines. Under Dr. Etienne’s leadership, PAHO also funded non-communicable disease interventions, another area that does not attract large pots of funding, although the number one cause of deaths in the Caribbean region.
During the Pandemic, CARPHA worked with PAHO to fund the downpayments to give 12 Member States access to COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX to the tune of US$2.6 million.
Dr. Etienne will be remembered as a true Caribbean lady who worked with great dedication and focus throughout the horrible COVID-19 period and right up to her last working day at PAHO.
During this challenging time, we pray that God will give strength to Dr. Etienne’s family, friends, and colleagues. CARPHA cherishes the memories of her remarkable contributions to the well-being of individuals and communities throughout the Americas, but especially the Caribbean.
The CARPHA Executive Management and staff stand in solidarity with our Caribbean Community as we mourn the loss of a visionary leader.
Dr. Joy St. John
Executive Director, CARPHA
Record Travel Expected for US Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend
November 25, 2023 – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is expecting to have its busiest day in history next week as thanksgiving travel spikes.
Overall more than 30 million passengers are expected to travel through airports during The official thanksgiving travel period which began on Friday, November 17 and will continue through Tuesday, November 28 but TSA is expecting the busiest travel to be Tuesday and Wednesday November 28th and 29th and the Sunday after thanksgiving.
“Nationally, TSA is projecting to screen 2.6 million passengers on Tuesday, Nov. 21; 2.7 million passengers on Wednesday, Nov. 22 and 2.9 million passengers on Sunday, Nov. 26, which will likely be the busiest travel day for TSA since its inception in 2001,” a press release explained
The agency assured that it is prepared for the increased numbers and screened a record number of passengers this year and revealed that 2023 has been a record year for travel already.
“We expect this holiday season to be our busiest ever. In 2023, we have already seen seven of the top 10 busiest travel days in TSA’s history,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “We are ready for the anticipated volumes and are working closely with our airline and airport partners to make sure we are prepared for this busy holiday travel season.”
American Airlines Flight Attendants want to STRIKE
#USA, November 25, 2023 – American Airlines Flight Attendants are ready to strike once the US government permits them according to the Association of Professional Flight Attendants.
The worker petition accuses AA not offering a livable wage to its flight attendants who they say have not gotten raises since 2019 even as Inflation in the United States reached historic levels in 2022.
Around the country, American Airlines flight attendants have been picketing with signs indicating they are ready to strike. Negotiations between the union and management are being mediated by the government and negotiators must declare and impasse before any strike action can be taken.
American Airlines is the world’s largest commercial carrier and it services countries all across the Caribbean as a true partner in tourism. The ripple effects of a strike in the New Year would be disastrous for these rebounding economies.
The Union has labeled the stinginess of American as owing to “corporate greed.”
It is unlikely that the Union will get the government approval they would require in order to strike.
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