Thursday, 28 May 2020

Pretoria: President Cyril Ramaphosa says South Africa supports the call of the African Union for a two-year debt standstill due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking at a virtual United Nations High-Level Event on Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond, held on Thursday, President Ramaphosa said Africa is encouraged by the collaboration of the G20, the Bretton Woods institutions and the UN towards finding solutions to developing country debt sustainability and related issues.

“We support the allocation of more IMF (International Monetary Fund) Special Drawing Rights to help central banks, the corporate sector and small and medium-sized businesses to withstand the shocks caused by the pandemic,” President Ramaphosa said.

The President participated at the invitation of the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres. The event was hosted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada and Prime Minister Andrew Holness of Jamaica.

It aimed to formulate a comprehensive global response to provide support to developing countries to ensure that the COVID-19 pandemic does not derail the achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

President Ramaphosa said South Africa endorsed the call by Guterres for the development of a comprehensive debt framework.

“This should start with an across-the-board debt standstill for countries unable to service their debts, followed by targeted debt relief and a comprehensive approach to structural issues in the international debt architecture to prevent defaults.

“We further welcome the Secretary-General’s call for a global response package amounting to at least 10% of the world’s gross domestic product. This means more than $200 billion of additional support for Africa.

“We must also address the threat posed to the economic stability of developing countries by illicit financial flows, money laundering and corruption,” the President said.

President Ramaphosa also emphasised that no one should be left behind, noting that South Africa shares a collective responsibility to “not just uplift our respective countries and societies, but also those less resourced and less fortunate”.

“Let us once again reaffirm our commitment to raising the standards of living of our citizens, to sustainably managing our natural resources, responding to the challenges brought about by climate change and to bringing material progress to all the peoples of the world,” the President said.

Far-reaching impacts on human health

The President further reiterated that the Coronavirus pandemic will have far-reaching impacts on human health, livelihoods, security, economic development and social stability.

He warned that the pandemic presents a very real threat to collective ability to meet the SDGs, particularly in the case for developing countries.

“As we mount a global effort to overcome the COVID-19 crisis, we need to ensure that the progress we have made towards the realisation of the SDGs is not reversed. In particular, we call on developed countries to meet their commitments to support developing countries in the key areas of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.” President Ramaphosa said.