COVID-19 continues to race across the African continent. People are dying, and even more are being pushed into hunger and poverty, in many cases risking to overturn years of development gains.
Our world is transfixed by the great human toll and economic impact of the worst global pandemic in a century. For the 65 million inhabitants of small island developing states (SIDS), the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is reminiscent of the worst forms of extreme weather events that SIDS contend with annually. Such events cost lives, undermine our hard-earned development gains, and hamper the aspirations and quality of life of our people. Our governments are routinely compelled to shift already scarce resources from social and economic investments to recovery and sustenance in the aftermath of disasters. For decades islands have been treading a development tightrope, which is increasingly precarious with the intensification of adverse climate impacts.
In his early February annual State of the Union address
, US President Donald Trump typically hailed his own policies for increasing wages and jobs to achieve record low US unemployment. Directly appealing to labour for a second term, Trump claimed exclusive credit for the US “blue-collar boom”.
The COVID-19 pandemic pushed economies into a Great Lockdown, which helped contain the virus and save lives, but also triggered the worst recession since the Great Depression. Over 75 percent of countries are now reopening at the same time as the pandemic is intensifying in many emerging market and developing economies. Several countries have started to recover. However, in the absence of a medical solution, the strength of the recovery is highly uncertain and the impact on sectors and countries uneven.
The practical challenge of quickly getting financial support in the hands of people who lost jobs amid the COVID-19 economic crisis has baffled advanced and developing economies alike. Economic lockdowns, physical distancing measures, patchy social protection systems and, especially for low-income countries, the high level of informality, complicate the task. Many governments are leveraging mobile technology to help their citizens.
The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly impacted most economies in the world. Its full impacts will not be felt, let alone measured, until it runs its course. Many countries are still struggling to contain contagion, while the costs on both lives and livelihoods will undoubtedly have long-term repercussions.
Exceptional times call for exceptional action. In response to COVID-19, the IMF has moved with unprecedented speed and magnitude of financial assistance to help countries protect lives and livelihoods. Economic stabilization and a sustainable recovery, however, will require more than financial assistance. For recovery to be sustainable, policymakers will need to strengthen economic institutions that enable resilient, inclusive policies.
As governments the world over struggle to revive their economies after the debilitating lockdowns they imposed following their failure to undertake adequate precautionary containment measures to curb Covid-19 contagion, neoliberal naysayers are already warning against needed deficit financing for relief and recovery.
Landless farmers who produce rice for the landlords of big “haciendas” can’t get more than a little pocket money from their harsh work—not enough to provide diverse and healthy food for their families. Seasonal workers on sugar-cane plantations know that they can count on only six months of earnings. When summer arrives, those whose irrigation facilities have been destroyed by typhoons, or those who never had any, struggle while waiting for the rain.
The COVID-19 pandemic is crippling the economies of rich and poor countries alike. Yet for many low-income and fragile states, the economic shock will be magnified by the loss of remittances—money sent home by migrant and guest workers employed in foreign countries.
Looking back to the start of 2020, the world has changed almost beyond recognition. To protect public health, the global economy was put into stasis. Shops closed, factories were mothballed, and people’s freedom of movement was severely curtailed.
No country has escaped the health, economic, and social impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. Tragically, more than 260,000 people have died and millions have been infected. The IMF is projecting global economic activity to decline on a scale not seen since the Great Depression. It is truly a crisis like no other.
By now, the impact of COVID19 on our daily lives has been well documented, especially in advanced economies. Anxiety about the future continues to grow everywhere. Much of the corporate news coverage we consume has focused on the toll this pandemic will take on mainland countries. Often neglected, however, is the unique position Pacific Island States find themselves in.
Remittances that support millions of households in Latin America and the Caribbean have plunged as family members lose jobs and income in their host countries, with entire families sliding back into poverty, as a result of the COVID-19 health crisis and global economic recession.
The Coronovirus pandemic has been an unforgiving test of advanced economies. Health systems in the United States, France, Italy, Spain, and the UK have been put under immense pressure, with shortages of doctors, ventilators, personal protective equipment and the capacity to test for the virus. Their economies have been battered and the consequences are spoken of in terms of the Great Depression.
Covid-19 is the most significant event since the Second World War. It changes everything.
It brings great sadness to many of us as we lose loved ones, as we see people losing their jobs, and as we see people around the world suffering immensely.
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have a historic opportunity to help stabilize a world reeling from COVID-19. Doing so will require the institutions to change course and aggressively support poor countries’ ability to invest broadly in the government services their populations need.
Like much of the West, Argentina did not take many early precautionary actions after the Covid-19 epidemic was confirmed in January, but became the first Latin American country to act decisively with a 12 March public health emergency declaration.
The presidential decree came a day after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global pandemic, just over a week after the first case was detected in the republic on 3 March.
On April 17, the Alberto Ángel Fernández administration in Argentina officially unveiled its offer for debt restructuring on USD 66 billion foreign currency-denominated bonds. Starting on that date, the offer is valid for 20 days, a period during which difficult negotiations with bondholders are expected to take place. Based on the first reactions from some of creditor groups, one could well get the sense that the offer is “dead on arrival.”
For a Bangladeshi woman, who has worked as a sex worker since childhood, her future post-COVID-19 looks hopeless.
Shilpy, who works at Daulatdia, the largest brothel in the country, told IPS how she now also fears for the future of her two daughters.
The unprecedented public health emergency triggered by the COVID -19 pandemic and its multi-faceted impact on people’s lives around the world is taking a heavy toll on Asia and the Pacific.
Countries in our region are striving to mitigate the massive socioeconomic impact of the pandemic, which is also expected to affect the region’s economic health. In its annual Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2020 launched today, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)expectsgrowth in Asia-Pacific developing economies to slow down significantly this year.