Excellencies, António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister Holness, distinguished ladies and gentlemen.
Guyana is deeply concerned about the widening development chasm between rich and poor countries as a response to the COVID 19 pandemic. While rich countries are better able to cope with adverse consequences of the pandemic, poor countries have been ravaged by the health crisis.
The pandemic has aggravated the tyrannies of povertyand economic distress. The existing international debt architecture compounds poorer countries bleak recovery prospects.
Guyana would therefore like to take this opportunity to urge, developed countries and international financial institutions to immediately revisit and reform the existing international debt framework, so as to make it more responsive to developing countries’ needs.
We applaud the recent initiative of the International Monetary Fund to provide a special drawing rights of us $650 billion. This will certainly enhance global liquidity and assist countries to navigate the risk and adverse effects of the pandemic.
We would also like to compliment the G20 countries for initiating the debt service suspension initiative, which allows for the postponement of debt repayments, for more than 70 low-income countries.
However, we would strongly urge them to seriously consider granting further extension of the standstill period to support the recovery efforts of poor countries.
Given the reality that many poor countries are saddled with debt distress, we advocate for broad based, debt relief to developing countries through international frameworks, similar to the Paris Club arrangements, such as the Debt Relief Under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative, and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative.
Further, we encourage the granting of debt relief by bilateral and commercial creditors, not explicitly participating in debt relief initiatives
These measures will help to provide valuable fiscal space and liquidity for the affected developing countries, and allow them to mount appropriate responses, geared at mitigation, relief, and rebuilding efforts in the wake of natural and biological disasters. Immediate relief should be provided. This could be achieved if developed countries, honour the pledge made to allocate at least 0.7% of the Gross National Income (GNI) to official development assistance.
The developed world’s achievement of this pledge has been underwhelming.
In 2019 official development assistance, totalled US$ 152.8 billion, or approximately 0.3% of the combined gross national incomes of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) countries.
Of the 29 member countries of the Development Assistance Committee, only four Denmark, Luxembourg, Norway, and Sweden, met or exceeded the 0.7% target.
Guyana therefore urges the developed countries, particularly the DAC countries to make concerted efforts to increase their Official Development Assistance (ODA) allocations to the 0.7% target.
This commitment would provide much needed aid to developing countries, especially at this time, when the economic and social fallout of the COVID 19 pandemic is seriously challenging their ability to effectively mount relief and recovery efforts.
Finally, we appeal for developed countries, and international lending institutions to increase funding to support small developing states, so that they can better respond to natural and biological disasters which exact massive tolls on their economies and infrastructure.
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of international economic cooperation. Such cooperation to assist developing countries better shoulder their debt burdens has never been more imperative as it is now.
I thank you.